Monthly Archives: January 2018

Marvellous Miss May: Queen of the Circus – Stephanie Owen Reeder



Publisher:   National Library of Australia
Edition:   1st Edition
ISBN:   9780642279156
Publication Date:   01 February 2018

RRP $24.99


What is not to love about this wonderful Heritage Heroes series?  Stephanie Owen Reeder introduces readers to a cast of significant Australians with whom many of us are unaware (myself included).

This new volume continues the high standard set by the previous books with not only the fictionalised story of the person, May Wirth, but also the inclusion of relevant information around the circus both historical and current, the period, day to day life and more with the illustrations vividly enhancing these. These include, as in previous titles, advertisements, banners, newspaper clippings, ephemera and more which all add to the overall beauty of the presentation.

After sharing the 2016 Eve Pownall shortlist with my Year 5s, Lennie the Legend was our hot favourite as a winner and we were all very well pleased when our prediction became actualised.

I cannot help but feel that this new volume will also be shortlisted at least and stands a good chance of winning again.

For me it was a fascinating read. To start with this is a Queenslander who began life as a neglected, impoverished and abused child and was ‘given away’ at the tender age of seven. Fortunately for May she was taken in by the Wirths and became an integral part of their circus family. As she grew older little Miss May proved she was tenacious and talented and eventually reached the dizzy heights of performing with the legendary Barnum & Bailey circus in the United States as well as performing for royalty in England. With such an illustrious and long-lived career as May had it is indeed a shame her name is so little known in the common lore of our country. This book will be pivotal in changing that as it introduces the present generation to one of our first Mighty Girls – one who refused to give up, and who stood up for equal rights her whole life.

Well done to the author for this superb account of the indomitable Miss May.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.




The Firefly Code – Megan Frazer Blakemore



Bloomsbury Australia

Published: 01-12-2017
ISBN: 9781681195278
Imprint: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
RRP: $11.99


Mori and her friends have grown up a tight-knit circle in their neighbourhood in Old Harmonie.  They believe their life to be normal and regular although they know their city is ‘apart’ from others, except for similar communities around the world.  Their world is sheltered from the outside and well-ordered with state of the art scientific benefits.  Mori’s grandmother and her dearest friend Dr Varden were the founders of this Utopian settlement, with their research into genetic enhancements leading the way for a perfect world. But Baba died when Mori was just little and even before that Dr Varden had left Old Harmonie in mysterious circumstances.  Now the city like its counterparts is run by the huge corporation Krita. Still all seems to go on in the same undisturbed manner as always. Every one’s house has the same floor plan, every family eats the same food delivered weekly, every one follows the same rules.

Then Ilana arrives. The new girl in the neighbourhood is beautiful, graceful and athletic to a point of disbelief. But there is something odd about her at times. The way she speaks, the memory lapses and the lack of social mores all point to her being somehow not the usual kind of kid.

The kids of Firefly Lane are curious and not just about Ilana but also the mystery of Dr Varden and their explorations reveal something quite sinister and disturbing. Not least of all is the revelation about Ilana and eventually the planned outcome for her as a ‘failed project’.

This is a mesmerising dystopian novel for younger readers which would lead to deep and philosophical discussions in much the same way as Lowry’s The Giver.

In a 21st century world where designer babies, artificial intelligence and humanoids are becoming more and more commonplace, this narrative has many themes worth investigating and debating.

The second episode is on its way and I have no doubt it will be just as intriguing as the children strive to discover answers and solutions to their many questions.

Highly recommended for able and discerning readers from around ten years upwards.