May sees the start of Term 2, the end of autumn (thankfully, it finally feels like autumn here in Sydney), and the middle of the year looming unbelievably close.
This month it’s wonderful to be able to bring you a First Nations’ picture book, a middle-grade novel about the unique bond between a child and a whale, and a YA fiction with the mysteries of Agatha Christie at its heart.
Miimi Marraal, Mother Earth is an absolutely stunning picture book from Gumbaynggir artist Melissa Greenwood. Using her wonderful art along with beautiful lyrical language, she tells the story of Miimi Marraal, Mother Earth, who created us and takes care of us in the same way a mother creates and cares for her children. There is much for children of all ages to learn from this amazing book.
The Lost Whale by Hannah Gold and Levi Pinfold is a companion book to last year’s The Last Bear. Like The Last Bear, The Lost Whale features a child who is lost, but finds purpose and meaning through the natural world. Rio has been sent to spend the summer with the grandmother he hardly knows in California, which feels like a whole different world when compared to the life he lives with his mother in London. But his mother is ill, and needs to be in hospital for a while, and his father doesn’t have time for him with the demands of his new family. At first Rio is determined not to like California, or his grandmother, who is so very different from his idea of what a grandmother should be, but then he discovers his mother’s passion for whales. He soon finds himself spending time with a new friend on whale-watching trips, and forms a bond with White Beak, a whale. When White Beak goes missing, Rio knows that it’s up to him to find him, and in doing so save both the whale and his mother.
Iris Adams and Alice Ogilvie couldn’t be more different: Iris is smart, hard-working and can’t wait to leave her cliquey high school; Alice, on the other hand, has wealthy problems, and was, until very recently, one of the most popular girls at school, but everything has fallen apart. Thanks to spending some time being home-schooled, Alice needs a tutor, and Iris has signed up – for a great deal of money she desperately needs – to be that tutor. Surprisingly, the girls discover they have more in common than they thought, particularly an interest in solving mysteries. When Alice’s former-best friend disappears, and her former-boyfriend is accused of hurting her, she’s not convinced he’s responsible. But no one is interested in clearing Steve’s name, so The Agathas are born.
Read of the Month – Closed Casket
Over the past couple of months I have spoken about my reader’s block, and I’m happy to report that it now seems to be on the way out. As many of you know, crime, specifically Agatha Christie, is my comfort reading. While it’s been some time since there’s been a new Christie, Sophie Hannah has taken on the mantle and has written four new Poirot mysteries.
Closed Casket is the second of Hannah’s Poirot series, and sees the beloved detective in the Irish countryside at the home of an eccentric and wealthy children’s writer. The cast of characters will be well-known to fans of classic crime: the unreliable adult children; the bizarre butler; the invalid secretary and his devoted nurse; the devoted solicitor. Poirot begins to suspect he’s been invited to help stop a murder but can’t understand why his hostess appears to be doing everything she can to provoke one.
When a murder does occur, it’s not at all the victim that Poirot expected, and he does not like surprises! While much of this story could be described as formulaic, I enjoyed it as a way to ease me back into reading, but it also made the unexpected twists and turns it does have all the more surprising. An entertaining and fun way to pass a rainy weekend.