Review: 'The Secret Diary of Kitty Cask: Smuggler’s Daughter'

BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations


Book Title: The Secret Diary of Kitty Cask: Smuggler’s Daughter (available here)

Author: Philip Ardagh

Illustrator: Jamie Littler

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Publication Date: February 2019

Most Suitable For: Lower KS2

Reviewed By: Rachel Caddick (@GetKidsin2Books), Teacher & book blogger


The Secret Diary of Kitty Cask: Smuggler’s Daughter is set in 18th century Cornwall. It’s an exciting, action-packed adventure. Kitty and her family live in a small fishing village. Her father is the head of a gang of smugglers who are trying to keep their contraband and illegal activities hidden from the excisemen. Kitty is supposed to stay safely at home but she regularly creeps out at night to watch her father and his men at work. Very soon she gets caught up in the action. There’s a shipwreck, secret caves, betrayal and a prison break.


I enjoyed how the book is a mixture of fact and fiction. The characters and settings are fictional but the book is packed with interesting factual detail - much of which is included in the footnotes. The Secret Diary of Kitty Cask is highly entertaining historical fiction for a young audience; it really brings a place, a time and a way of life alive for its readers.


Kitty is an excellent lead character: brave, resourceful and quick-thinking. Philip Ardagh has created a lively supporting cast of colourful characters and sinister villains too. The book is wonderfully illustrated throughout and is perfect for newly independent readers who are ready for a longer chapter book.


Curriculum Links:

Literacy - diary entries, dramatic tension, debates, drama

History - 18th century, smuggling

Geography - Cornwall




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You can order The Diary of Kitty Cask: Smuggler's Daughter online or from your local bookshop or library.




Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Rachel for reviewing it.

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