FRIED bread and a jar of what looked like glossy brown chocolate sauce promised a taste sensation too delicious for 11-year-old Karen Wallace to resist.

She took a big spoonful of the brown stuff and spread it thickly over a triangle of fried bread. In her mind was chocolate Danish pastries.

In her mouth it was fire and brimstone as a sharp burning taste shot up her nose and hot tears poured down her face.

The little girl, up heaved from the back woods of Canada to a boarding school on the English coast, was experiencing ' new girl's treatment' - and Marmite.

"That story is true, it worked a treat," said a grown up Karen, now wise to the world and living in Lyonshall.

It is already entertaining thousands of children who have bought her latest book, 'Climbing a Monkey Puzzle Tree', a sequel to her debut novel 'Raspberries on the Yangtze'.

"It's that sort of mixture of keeping things sad as well as funny. It's bitter sweet," Karen describes the realities of growing up and her funny, cringing book.

"When I was doing my research, for girls and boys, they all said French kissing, French kissing, French kissing. Everybody had a different theory. One boy used to practice on his knee," she said.

In her book heroine Nancy Cameron, also from the wilds of Canada, discovers it in her dormitory after announcing that it doesn't exist where she comes from.

"I already knew what it meant if you refused a dare. You were a coward. A weed. A sissy...The next moment Sharon Downey pushed her squirmy wet tongue into my mouth and I almost threw up," wrote Karen.

The author of 80 books and wife of high seas adventure writer Sam Llewellyn, she discovered English boarding schools when she was 11 years old.

"I moved here with all my family, my father was in the diplomatic service. After the woods and the log cabin in Canada, everything seemed like miniature.

"I settled into school reasonably well. You had to sink or swim in those days. You had to stand your ground and then become part of the community. There is new girls treatment and secret gangs," said Karen.

There was also the hitchhikers dance and Mary Quant make up - and blonde hair dye, which 'Nancy' introduced to Sharon Downey.

Shock rippled through the dormitory landing at Woodmaston House when Nancy realised she had been rubbing cream peroxide into Sharon's head for 20 minutes and not conditioner. Her hair came out in big handfuls.

'Climbing a Monkey Puzzle Tree', published by Simon and Schuster, was a Sunday Times book of the week and is available from Waterstones in Hereford.

l Sam Llewellyn's latest book, 'The Worst Journey in the Midlands', documenting his attempt to make his way from the depths of Wales to London by rowing boat, has just been published in paperback by Summersdale Travel.