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.
I am delighted to say that this is one of a growing number of books that focuses on the world we live in and how we interact with the nature that surrounds us. There has been an ever growing number of information books and television programmes that focus on the environment and it is so good to see so many young people becoming involved in raising the awareness of the situation. This book provides a wonderful mix of adventure, nature and also the difficulties that people can have if they are perceived as being ‘different’ in any way.
Chicken House, 9781910655474
Nathaniel has grown up being looked after by his grandmother (although he attends a boarding school during term time). When his grandmother dies, he was going to spend the holidays with his aunt and uncle, but then his mother, who has just returned from living in India decides that she wants to have him stay with her at the old family home at Southwold in Suffolk He finds living in such a chaotic surrounding a challenge and is on the verge of wanting to leave and go to the familiar surroundings of his other family. A chance meeting a young girl called Ivy, who thinks she can communicate with animals of all kinds, gives him something to focus on; their common interest in the environment also helps both of them cope with a variety of issues. However, there is a secret from the past that is about to re-surface and the two Eco-warriors will have their work cut out to find a solution.
This is a beautiful story of two children who have had many issues in their lives. Nathaniel has Asperger’s syndrome and struggles to connect with others, while Ivy is living with very supportive foster parents but has undergone abusive treatment from her real father, who even sent her Thai mother back to Thailand. This moving tale shows how these two eventually begin to work together despite the major difference in the way that they interact with others. It also shows how they can connect with the adults in their lives, when the adults take the time to help them. It is a superb read for all children, whether they are aware of environmental issues or not. I gradually became more engrossed by these seemingly eccentric characters and I would love to follow some more of their adventures; in fact I get the hint that there might be another real adventure in the offing. Thank you Emma Shevah for such a fantastic read.
Emma Shevah is Thai and Irish and was born and raised in London. She is the author
of four Middle Grade novels published by Chicken House:Dream on Amber, Dara Palmer’s Major Drama (optioned by the BBC), and What Lexie Did and How to Save the World with a Chicken and an Egg, and an early reader for Bloomsbury: Hello Baby Mo! She has lived and travelled in many countries but now lives in Brighton with half of her four children. She is Head of Year at Roedean, where she teaches English and gazes at the sea, wishing she was in it. (Chicken House Books)