The Jewel Seed by Joan Aiken,
illustrated by Peter Bailey.
Hodder Children’s Books 1998 (1997)
What is the Jewel Seed, and why are various people looking for it? These are the questions teen orphan Nonnie Smith keeps asking herself in this rumbustious fantasy novelette penned by the indefatigable Joan Aiken.
In ten action-packed chapters we discover how it is that Nonnie becomes parentless, how a twice-stolen shirt leads her into dire danger, how she comes to stay in northwest London and what befell her there. Along the way we encounter witches, a mysterious lodger and an even stranger cat, and wonder how a grandfather clock, apples, snakes, bootlaces and a three-note musical motif fit into the bigger picture.
And for those who like to rummage beneath the bubbling surface of her cauldron’s concoction there are hints as to the ingredients the author has selected to add to her rich stew.