Review: Princes Parade, by Mark Brophy

Princes Parade Review
Princes Parade by Mark Brophy, cover design by Clare Foster

After such a cold and dreary winter, when we have all been locked down, it is lovely to see signs of spring, to feel a little warmth in the sun at last and to enjoy the longer days. In this part of the world, we are lucky to be able to enjoy walks along the coast and in the countryside nearby.

Here in Hythe, we also have the Royal Military Canal to explore. This will soon undergo radical change – more housing, a new hotel, swimming pool and a new road, to run alongside, are planned at the Seabrook end of Princes Parade

I couldn’t help thinking the other day, as I walked along, of a quotation from Havelock Ellis to the effect that “The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared years ago…had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.” 

It was a joy to discover recently that a book has been written about the area – The Princes Parade, by Mark Brophy. It’s a book for children and young adults but will resonate with readers of all ages and it certainly drew me in straightaway.

Actually, it rather put me in mind of a modern-day version of The Family at One End Street, with extra magic and an originality and charm of its own. It tells the story of nine-year-old Hana and her family, who have recently moved from London to Seabrook. Hana finds it difficult at first to adjust to a new house and a new school, and there are tensions at home when her father loses his job.

But Hana soon starts to make new friends though, including Nuna the Fox and Kajika the Owl, and her parents start to settle as well. Hana finds that the animals of Prince’s Parade urgently need her help and she comes up with an exciting  plan to try to save the area from development.

Mark Brophy skilfully brings home to us just how essential wild places such as The Princes Parade are, for our emotional and physical wellbeing. Places that aren’t manicured, where we don’t have to book or pay to get in, and where – whatever age we are – we can simply just “be”.