A Packetful of Trouble

A Packetful of trouble

A Packetful of trouble


Who hasn’t dreamed of a holiday free of grown-ups and rules? For the Packet children that dream suddenly comes true when their mother’s friend Cynthia, who lives in the South of France, offers the family the use of two ancient caravans in a field near her house. Their mother has just got a job, so the problem of what they should do in the long summer holidays has been unexpectedly solved.


There is ten-year-old Rose, who is dreamy, loves painting and is devoted to her guinea pig. There is her elder brother Simon, who likes machinery, conducting experiments and finds stick insects more interesting than guinea pigs. There is their bossy cousin Linda who is always quarrelling with Simon, and her sensible fourteen-year-old brother, James, who does his best to keep the peace.


But there are problems: one is Rose’s plump black and white guinea pig, Porky, which she doesn’t want to leave behind. Then there is the sinister Mademoiselle Sourire employed to escort them to their destination by boat and sleeper. It is Rose, with a secret of her own to conceal, who first wonders if the mysterious French woman is all that she claims to be.


The holiday is idyllic. After settling them in and showing them the shops, Cynthia and her husband Pierre are happy to let them look after themselves. So they revel in the warmth, in the smells of the herbs and lavender fields, in swimming in the lake, having picnics and, above all, in not being treated like children.


It is a confusion over cases – which could happen to anyone really – and their contact with Mademoiselle Sourire which turns this peaceful holiday into a great adventure, involving them in a struggle with an international gang of thieves and putting Rose in terrible danger.



This is an unusual variation on the stock holiday adventure. There are the conventional ingredients of international art robbery, with genuinely breath-taking moments, as when the heroine, Rose, nearly falls from a train, pushed by the sinister elderly “Mademoiselle” a last minute stand-in to accompany the four Packet cousins to friends in the South of France. The details of travel and French life are well-conveyed, particularly the sultry Provencal heat, the beauty of the countryside: lavender fields, trees, lake and gorge, and the excitement of being treated as adults: looking after themselves and shopping in a strange country. Rose’s love of her guinea pig makes this more than a mere series of thrills in an interesting setting. However, she smuggles it into her luggage and it helps to save her life and capture the villains and, in addition, her devotion to it outweighs accepted values and attitudes to danger, pleasure and rewards, providing a humour and freshness in the narrative.

The Junior Bookshelf


Children with a taste for adventure will enjoy meeting the Packet family and sharing the fun, excitement and danger they encounter during their holiday in France.


Written with humour and containing a well measured degree of suspense, this delightfully drawn adventure story will help to fire young imaginations.

Western Morning News


A holiday spent in two caravans in the South of France sounds great fun to the four Packet cousins. But there are problems. One is Rose’s guinea pig, Porky, which she doesn’t want to leave behind. Another is that the mademoiselle from school has to go into hospital suddenly, so the sinister Mademoiselle Sourire is asked to escort them instead.


On the journey, however, one of the children’s suitcases is accidentally exchanged for Mademoiselle Sourire’s and instead of finding it full of clothes they find it full of paintings.


The story is well written and every fact has obviously been looked into.


While I was reading the book I was thinking, “Are they real?” Rose, the youngest, is a typical ten-year-old girl. Her love of animals is shown in the way she thinks about and treats her own guinea pig. Linda is rather bossy and I think that if her fourteen-year-old brother James had been real he would have quietened her down more. Simon is more interested in inventions and machines than in animals, as are many eleven-year-old boys.

Review by 12 year old schoolgirl at request of Editor


I have just read a book called “A Packetful of Trouble” by Margaret Bacon. I have read lots of children’s books in which the adventures seem impossible. The adventure in this book could have happened to me and so it was so much more enjoyable.


It was a book I could not put down as I loved every minute of it. Eight, nine and ten-year-olds could read it easily.


I have six guinea pigs of my own and when Porky the guinea pig was mentioned in the book I was particularly interested. This is a book I could recommend to most boys and girls as it is realistic and easily read.

Abigail (aged 9)


Children’s books are one of the nicest ways of ensuring some peace in the home and this one is quite likely to be read by mums and dads as well.


The story is exciting and not beyond the bounds of credibility. The packet family are a happy lot; Porky the guinea pig is the apple of young Rose’s eye and the children’s adventures start when they set off for a holiday in the South of France without their parents, but with Porky smuggled aboard.


The mysterious French woman supposed to look after them, the involvement with an international gang of thieves, a car chase and a kidnapping keep the action moving to the last page.

Sunday Independent




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