Tag Archives: family changes

The Pony Question – Jackie Merchant

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Walker Books

July 2020

ISBN: 9781760651640
Imprint: Walker Books Australia

Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

I’m not really a horse-y person and now that the Kid is no longer riding neither is she so horse-themed books are a little bit of uncharted territory for me. However many years ago Ruby Ferguson’s Jill’s Gymkana (#1 Jill’s Ponies) was a very enjoyable read for me and this reminded me strongly of that pleasure.

All that being said, this is not merely a horse story but a heart-warming narrative of family, friends and community with an additional bonus of being set in a location fairly familiar to me (Blue Mountains and Lithgow NSW).

Essie and her mum now live in a small community in a quirky somewhat shabby house after her father abandoned them for a younger woman and a new life in pristine perfection. Despite money being a little tight the two are very happy in their new surroundings with their warm and welcoming friends and life is moving along nicely as Francesca’s small business of restoring furniture gains traction. Essie’s antipathy towards her father and his cold and bottled-up new wife is almost tangible and she is particularly irritated by his offer to install her in an exclusive private boarding school with the promise of a new pony and more.

It was her father’s overweening attitude of control and competitiveness that ruined Essie’s promising success as a dressage rider two years previously when he, unbeknownst to anyone else, doped Essie’s pony in order to enable her to compete in a qualifier for a state team. When the ‘nobbling’ was discovered it was of course Essie who bore the brunt of the disgrace and the subsequent disqualification from competition. Her pony, Chet, was sold and though her dad promised to get her another horse, Essie just can’t bring herself to re-enter the fray.

Well all that’s about to change when Essie and her mum accidentally buy a neglected pony at a clearing sale and faced with either taking it home or re-selling to the local knacker, of course they keep the pony – at least for the time being. Poor Moxie has fallen from star pony to half-starved and half-wild beast in just a couple of years. She is in a bad way and really nobody is even expecting her to survive.

Essie’s journey of healing Moxie, along with the support of her mum and circle of friends, despite her father’s opposition is also a healing for herself as she faces difficult situations and arrives at answers providing the reader with a beautiful story of reconciliation in a very divisive and unhappy circumstance. No doubt there will be many for whom this will resonate, with or without a horse involved.

It is a testament to the engaging story that I read this in two sessions and in fact, read past my usual ‘lights off’ time, all unknowing! This is Jackie Merchant’s second novel and I know that I, for one, will look forward to more from this author.

Highly recommended not only for your horse-tragics but all your upper primary and lower/middle secondary readers who enjoy a contemporary story with real depth.

Clementine Rose: Collection Five – Jacqueline Harvey

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Penguin Australia

  • August 2020
  • ISBN: 9781760897437
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $19.99

Don’t wait around to get your hands on this fifth and final bind-up of stories about this delightful little girl!

This collection contains Clementine Rose and the Wedding WobblesClementine Rose and the Bake-Off Dilemma and Clementine Rose and the Best News Yet.

In case you have been in iso for longer than the past few months, Clementine Rose is the cutest child ever. Rather than being delivered in a hospital, she arrrived via a baker’s van and her adoptive mother, Lady Clarissa, wouldn’t be without her. Along with her teacup pig, Lavender, Digby Pertwhistle the butler and the redoubtable, and often critical, Great Aunt Violet plus Pharoah the sphynx cat, Clementine lives in a large and somewhat ramshackle house surrounded by friends in their local village, Penberthy Floss.

These three stories follow the exciting developments around Lady Clarissa’s wedding and the extension of their happy family and naturally there are adventures, problems and satisfying outcomes along the way.

These bind-ups are a super gift idea but obviously for all your dedicated CR fans also a must-have for your collection.

I know the copies in my libraries have always been on a constant turn-around so the addition of these is a great idea. Highly recommended for your readers from around Year 1 upwards.

Celia and Nonna – Victoria Lane/Kayleen West

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Celia and Nonna – Victoria Lane/Kayleen West

ISBN 978925000603 (hardback) 978192000601 (paperback)

September 2014

Ford St Publishing

RRP $24.95/$14.95

Ages 4+

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Some very apt books have come my way in the last week or so and this is one of them. This gentle and loving story of a little girl and her much-loved Nonna, and the changes that occur when Nonna’s memory starts to fail is so very pertinent to our family at the present time.

It is difficult for little ones to understand that aging family members cannot always remember things, or indeed that they may change where they live. On Friday we celebrated my mother’s 88th birthday and at times it is tricky for the two youngest great-grandchildren to understand why Nanny now lives in the place she does, or why she doesn’t remember everything.

Celia loves sleeping over at her Nonna’s place. She always has a fuss made of her and she and Nonna cook together and play special games, but when Nonna starts to forget things, locks herself out of the house and so on, Nonna moves to a special place where people can help to keep her safe. There is no room for Celia to sleep over any more and nowhere to cook – but there is room to put lots of drawings up on walls of the fun things that are special memories. In just the same way, Miss Just-Turned-Five spends much time creating beautiful artwork for her great-grandmother, just to make sure Nanny knows how much she is loved.

It was difficult for me to read this without emotion because of the intensely personal circumstances but this is a superb book to share with little people who are facing changes in their family due to aging, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The text and illustrations are simple, gentle and suitably engaging for a young audience – the endpapers are truly gorgeous (many of my friends and students know about my rapture over endpapers!).

Highly recommended for home and library shelves for sharing with small people from around 4 and up.

 

Check out Kayleen’s website and Victoria’s here.