This is just a delightful and heart-warming picture book which is based on the true story of how small rural towns with dwindling populations have opened their community and hearts to welcome refugees and re-invigorate their townships.
The narrator is Milly who loves her town and her netball team but is sad that her team is shrinking as her friends’ families move to seek life in the city. After learning about refugees at school resourceful Milly comes up with an idea – she’ll write a letter inviting refugees to come to her lovely town to settle and help it survive. Her supportive family go one better and they all create a promotional video invitation – jobs and houses, country life and a great community.
And the plan works! What a thrill to see your endangered community not only rejuvenated but enriched with a diverse and vibrant influx of newcomers!
Gwynne’s text is simple but highly effective as it emphasises Milly’s passion for her home and Tony Flowers brings Gong Gong to life in rich detail with his fabulous illustrations – including in-jokes like including his own motorbikes and VW beetle as well as his family’s bakery! The end papers are just gorgeous (my kiddos know my love of great endpapers so well!) and fully realise the complete journey of Milly’s plan.
This would be a terrific read-aloud and one which will generate much rich discussion and inspire deep learning around the complex issue of small-town Australia’s plight as well as that of refugees struggling to find their place in our wonderful country.
Highly recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards.
The intrepid outlaw girls and boys are back in the next exciting instalment of the Ateban Cipher – Gwyn, Merry, Scarlett along with Gabe and now Eddie (aka Prince Edward) are on a quest to deliver the Book of Secrets to the rightful recipient. When Gabe first took charge of the mysterious book he knew nothing about it except that it was dangerous in more ways than one. Now with the help of his new comrades some progress has been made and the group are on their way to the isolated Hayden’s Mont and Lord Lucien where they hope to rid themselves of the book (and their deadly pursuers) and be able to get on with other business. But more than answers about the book are in store at Hayden’s Mont – Gabe receives a shock regarding his birth origins, they are all in a quandary about what to do next when Lucien says he cannot take charge of the book and Eddie still needs to reach his father the King with the proof of his identity – not to mention Gwyn’s determination to save her own father from his unjust and false imprisonment. While some threads appear to be tied up, others are just unravelling – what is in store next time for this brave band?
This is the kind of thrilling adventure that has readers turning the pages as fast as they can devour the story along the way discerning many important themes about trust, loyalty, ingenuity and courage.
A .L. Tait’s knack for creating these gripping and often tense exploits has been well demonstrated in her Mapmaker Chronicles series (as a reader said to me in the last week of school – “I just LOVE this series – it keeps you on the edge of your seat!”) and now continues the success with this new series.
Hear A. L. Tait talk about the inspiration for this new series here.
Highly recommended for Upper Primary/Lower Secondary readers both boys and girls.