Perry likes to ask questions, but she rarely gets answers. Her mother and father are very busy people, and are always working. She doesn’t have many children to play with, either; only her babysitter Nina’s son Claude. Perry is an only child, and her family is very small. There’s Perry, her mum and dad; and, of course, there’s Gran.
Gran lives at Santa Lucia, a home for the elderly. Perry and her father visit her there every Saturday. Santa Lucia is a chaotic place, full of mishaps, mysteries and peppermints. When one of Perry’s classes is cancelled, she decides to spend her Thursdays at Santa Lucia with her gran. The people at Santa Lucia are, to say the least, a wild bunch. Perry’s gran, for instance, has a habit of stealing Melvyn Broome’s peppermints. Melvyn Broome has a habit of hitting people who steal his peppermints with his walking cane. Gran, as well as most the people at Santa Lucia, has a weak memory, yet instead of being confused, she sticks to the few things she can remember about her past. Perry decides that what this unusual yet lovable family needs is something practical, reliable, and orderly; and what could be more reliable than an alphabet book?
As Perry works on her ABC book, she tries to stick to the rules, but as the people at Santa Lucia help her, the alphabet soon is an ACB; a jumbled, confused version of the alphabet. Nothing stays the same at Santa Lucia, but soon Perry begins to wonder: is it Gran, Doris and the others who don’t make sense, or is it the strict, “do-as-I-say” world outside Santa Lucia’s walls that doesn’t?
The ACB with Honora Lee is a simple yet powerful novel, and will be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It is tinged with subtle humour and written in an almost poetic way. You will never want to put it down!
Reviewed by Tierney.