Tag Archives: Orphans

The Snow Angel – Lauren St John



Harper Collins

Zephyr Books/Head of Zeus

ISBN  9781786695895

October 2017

RRP $19.99


It’s a long way from the wide blue skies and shimmering heat haze of Kenya to the bleak snow covered moors of Inverness and for 12 year old Makena the journey is not just a geographical one.

Much loved only child of a science teacher mother and a mountain guide father, Makena burns with passion for the mountains and climbing reckoning them her friends. When her parents are caught up in the Ebola outbreak on a mercy mission to Sierra Leone and die there, Makena’s world implodes into grief, loss of identity and homelessness. A spectacularly unsuccessful relocation to her paternal uncle’s poor home where his wife treats Makena as an unpaid servant ends abruptly and Makena finds herself fending for herself in the slums of Nairobi. Surviving like a gutter rat for a month or more, she is then swept up in a redevelopment which ruthlessly bulldozes the slums and she then finds herself rescued by a charitable organisation for girls and meets Helen. Just as Makena is recuperating from her trauma and a case of cholera, Helen has disappeared back to her parents’ home in Scotland and once again Makena feels herself abandoned.  But unexpectedly, arrangements are made for the young girl to spend a month over Christmas in the wilds of Scotland.  No spoilers here but suffice to say there is a happy ending for all.

This is just beautiful. It is warm and moving and oozes love despite the sadness threading throughout it. It is also somewhat mystical with the recurring motif of a special fox that seems to be akin to a guardian angel. There are lots of points of discussion; forgotten/orphaned children, civil war, rich vs poor, healing and the power of nature and love.

I read this in one sitting (well, lying down last night in bed) as I couldn’t put it down.  Lauren St John’s books about Africa have been wildly popular in my library for the past year or so and my prediction is that this will be just as enthusiastically received.

Check out Lauren’s website here and the book trailer here.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.


Popcorn Movie Time: The BFG


Last night we were fortunate enough – myself & Small, her little cousin The Divine Miss M and her BFF – to attend a preview 3D screening of Spielberg’s The BFG. Some reviews have claimed it didn’t translate well and if anything was ‘too faithful’ to Roald Dahl’s much-loved novel. I don’t need to explain the plot so will just comment on the movie.

Well this family didn’t find it so. I think, if anything, it is because it is so faithful to the book that it works.

Ruby Barnhill as Sophie is just the right kind of dorky to play the bespectacled orphan with pedantic tendencies who is plucked from her bedroom by a huge but kindly giant.Mark Rylance plays his part as the BFG with an endearing and appealing manner.

The BFG’s fellow giants – gargantuan in size and vile in persona – are suitably ferocious but with enough comedic touches to render them less scary than might be supposed.

The climactic scenes at Buckingham Palace with Penelope Wilton portraying a very Dahl-esque Queen Elizabeth are terrific. And by far the children’s favourite part of all was the frobscottle drinking followed by whizpopping. The corgis shooting up the stairs powered by their own emissions are hilarious – this thoroughly endorsed by Small today. 🙂

If you are a Dahl fan you will approve and if you have young children there is nothing in this that would be too terrifying.

Love the BFG’s cave/cottage and his room of dreams – and the ubiquitous snozzcumbers are truly revolting!

A huge shout out to Dot Tonkin of Random House Australia for extending the invitation!

It was a real high point in our holidays. Make sure you rush out to buy the new edition of the book. Our library will be featuring a Roald Dahl display following the holidays – and of course leading up to Roald Dahl Day in September.