Mum looked dead excited, and I guess she thought that I’d be excited too. And maybe I should have been. I mean, it’s not every day your family finds out they’ve inherited their very own big old white-and-black mansion. But to be honest, I found the idea about as exciting as a wet sock, and I guess it showed on my face..
‘I thought you’d be thrilled, Sunny,’ said Mum. ‘You love that old house.’
‘I loved the house because it was Granny Carmelene’s. When she was alive! I can’t imagine living there now. It’d be sad.’
First she had to adapt to being part of a blended family, and becoming a big sister when her dad and his new partner had a baby. Now Sunny Hathaway has to face even more changes when Mum and Carl decide the family should move into the mansion they’ve just inherited. And her dad’s house is not much of a refuge. Her new baby sister is gorgeous, but her step mother, Steph, is struggling with being a new mother. For Sunny it seems life is all changes.
Mostly Sunny with the Chance of Storms is a rich sequel to Sunny Side Up (2008) and,like its predecessor is a blend of reality, whimsy and complexity. With two step siblings and a step father at her mum’s home, and a step mother and baby half sister at her dad’s, Sunny’s life is fairly complicated. But add in a grumpy Italian gardener living in a cottage in the grounds of the mansion, a first crush on a boy with no telephone or internet, and a recently deceased grandmother who may be visiting in the form on an angel, and complicated just doesn’t come close to describing Sunny’s life.
There is a lot happening in this book, but it is not overloaded – rather it is a finely tuned, feel-good story which will appeal to upper primary aged readers.
Mostly Sunny with the Chance of Storms, by Marion Roberts
Allen & Unwin, 2009
That was the summer when everything started to change, and let me tell you, change is not my strong point. For starters, Mum insisted that Carl (her boyfriend), and his kids (Lyal and Saskia), help decorate our Christmas tree. Can you imagine? Tree decorating has always been my job.
Sunny, her Mum and their dog Willow get along just fine as a unit. Christmas morning means that Dad and his partner Steph join them for present-opening. But this year is going to be different. Mum’s boyfriend Carl and his two children will be there too. On Christmas morning there are two extra presents, from long-lost Granny Carmelene. Sunny is happy to have an extra present, and an invitation to visit, but Mum storms out. She doesn’t open her present and she extracts a promise from Sunny to stay away from her mother. As a heatwave grips Melbourne, Sunny tries her hardest to make sense of her world – a very challenging task as everything and everyone seems to be changing. Her best friend has started keeping secrets, their pizza business is burgeoning, her step-mother Steph is about to have a baby (and has cleared the fridge of interesting food), her mother and Carl have ‘plans’ and no one will tell her what caused the rift between her mother and her grandmother.
Sunny Side Up is a high-heat, quick-rising, multi-flavoured delight. Sunny has a wonderfully strong voice, and shares her world and her sometimes chaotic thoughts with the reader with humour and some introspection. Like a pizza-with-the-lot, her life is full to the point of overflowing. Marion Roberts gives us a view into the simplicity and complexity of Sunny’s eleven year-old brain. Sunny has enviably positive relationships with both her parents and their respective new partners. Accepting some of the other changes in her life takes a little longer, but she rises to, and meets, every challenge she is set. There are too many potential points for discussion to mention here – families, forgiveness, friendship, understanding of others are just a few. Highly recommended for 9-12 year old readers.
Sunny Side Up, by Marion Roberts
Allen & Unwin 2008
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