We seem to be in a really great period for those books aimed at newly confident readers. Not many years ago, this was an area that seemed to suffer from a lack of titles and a real sense that publishers were too concerned with the academic side of the reading process. Luckily there is now a much better understanding of the fact that if you want children to read, then they will do so if they really enjoy the stories that are being presented to them.
This is a delightful new series by Alex Milway, featuring a young girl Rosa, who has to go and live with her grandmother in the Canadian wilderness; you can tell it is wild because Rosa arrives in a seaplane, which is delivering Nan’s winter supplies, before the weather freezes. Nan seems somewhat grumpy to begin with, but accepts that Rosa is family and they settle into the small cabin that is now home to two of them. Rosa gets a great surprise when a moose puts its head through the open window, but the greatest shock comes when he actually starts talking to her! What follows is totally fantastical, but Rosa finds that she is surrounded by amazing talking creatures such as a very grumpy hare, a bear and newcomers, the beaver sisters. We follow all of the characters as they discover the balance that is required to make the environment work for everyone; they need to consider the others in the area and not just think about their own wishes.
The second story in the series has several new characters and the action starts when Rosa discovers a wolf cub who has become lost in a great storm. This leads Rosa and her Nan to go in search of the pack and find out why they have moved from their old home. We also get to met a group of Moose, an owl called Little Pig and a family of hedgehogs, all of whom have to work together to try and repair the damage that has been done to the river bank and surrounding area. At the same time Rosa and her Nan are extending the cabin, so that Rosa will actually have her own bedroom, a move that really emphasizes how he has become part of her grandmother’s life. We are promised third title in the series so I look forward to reading about adventures with “The Sea Otters”.
These are a really great read for younger readers, with brilliant illustrations full of humour and energy. The underlying themes about the environment and living with nature mix with the need for family and friendship. There is also the need to try and understand those who are different and not to just go with the public perception, as with the wolves. this series is highly recommended and I can’t wait to read more about our bold heroine and even more feisty Nan.