‘A single woman?’ Barbara said, eyes still on her crossword. She tapped the base of the pencil against her lip. ‘In Sandringham? Why wouldn’t she get an apartment in the city?’
‘Single women can live in Sandringham! Maybe she wanted to live by the beach.”
”But it’s an unusual choice, wouldn’t you say?’ her mum said. ‘Especially Pleasant Court.”
On the surface Pleasant Court lives up to it’s name, as a pleasant place to live. The culdesac is a peaceful, family street where everyone knows everyone. Essie, Fran and Ange are all happily married, with two children each. Essie may have had a breakdown after the birth of her first child, but her second is now six months old, and she’s coping fine, even if she does sometimes envy the lives of her two friends. the arrival of a new neighbour, though, is unexpected, and becomes the catalyst for change. What Isabelle is doing there is unclear – but it could lead to big changes inthe lives of the three friends.
The Family Next Door is, in part, a reminder that the outward lives of our neighbours are often a far cry form their reality. Told from the alternating third person perspectives of the three women, readers are party to their individual battles and turmoil. At the same time, it is Essie and her family whose storyline is most dominant, with Essie’s battle with postnatal depression, her relationship with her mother and her connection with the new neighbour, Isabelle, both intriguing and moving.
In parts wryly soap-operish, in the vein of Desperate Housewives, this is a compelling, moving read which will suprise as it entertains.
The Family Next Door, by Sally Hepworth
I was ten years old when my parents were killed by pirates.
This did not bother me as much as you might think – I hardly knew my parents. They were a whirling pair of dancers in a photograph my aunt kept on her mantelpiece. There was a jazz band in the corner of that photo, and I’d always been more taken by the man playing the trumpet than my mother’s gauzy scarf or my father’s goofy grin.
When news comes that her parents have been killed by pirates, Bronte Mettlestone isn’t particularly moved. She doesn’t remember her parents, who abandoned her in her the lobby of her Aunt’s apartment building when she was just a baby. But when she is summonsed to the reading of her parents’ will, Bronte’s life changes dramatically. Her parents have left special gifts for each of her other ten aunts – and instructions for Bronte to deliver them. She must do this alone, following the very detailed instructions her parents have left, or something terrible will happen.
Armed only with her parents’ instructions, a chest full of strange gifts and her own wits, Bronte is soon travelling to visit her various aunts who are scattered far and wide and include one who is a veterinarian, another who is monarch of a small kingdom and two others who captain their own cruise ship. As she delivers gifts and follows instructions, Bronte finds herself having unexpected adventures, including rescuing a baby from drowning, inadvertently getting caught in an avalanche, and facing pirates and dragons. Before she reaches her final destination, Bronte begins to suspect that there is more to this quest than a simple delivery of gifts.
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventure of Bronte Mettlestone is a whimsical, adventure-filled novel which young readers will be swept away by. Bronte’s adventure is filled with twists and turns, and characters both odd and captivating. The illustrations (the work of Kelly Canby) scattered throughout the book and the sumptuous gold-embellished hard cover complete the experience, making the book a delight to own.
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventure of Bronte Mettlestone, by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrations by Kelly Canby
Allen & Unwin, 2017
In the dead of night we run away.
Dad hoists the new pack over my shoulders. I rub at my eyes, drag sleep-flattened hair into a rough ponytail, then trail him out the door. It clicks softly behind us. Dad’s twitchy. I’m twisted in knots.
Mackenzie’s mum is missing. It’s been 114 days since she was last scene in remote Panama. Most people think she must be dead, but Mackenzie’s dad is convinced she is still alive. Without telling Nan, or anyone else, he wakes Mackenzie in the dead of night and takes her to Panama where, he is sure, they will uncover the truth. But, while Mackenzie’s Dad is desperate to find Mum, Mackenzie is desperate to make sure he doesn’t, and that they don’t uncover too much information.
Missing is an emotional, absorbing read. The blend of mystery, adventure and emotion make for an enticing combination which won’t let readers put it down. With chapters set ‘now’ , as Mackenzie deals with her Dad’s desperation and unbalanced approach to solving the mystery, interspersed with chapters set ‘then’, in the days surrounding Mum’s disappearance, and in the months since, as Mackenzie and her father and grandmother struggle to deal with the situation, the format allows readers to gradually piece together what has happened, and to travel with Mackenzie as she moves closer to the truth.
The balance between action and emotion is done well, making for a satisfying, if heart-churning read.
Missing, by Sue Whiting
Walker Books, 2018
Pepsi backed up slowly, away from Mum. She turned and darted behind Granny’s recliner chair. One sausage caught on the carpet and was left behind. Mum stood still, her hands on her hips.
Pepsi poked her head out. She looked at the last sausage still sitting on the carpet, and licked her lips. In a flash, Pepsi bounced out, grabbed the sausage and hurried backwards into her hidey-hole.
There was a loud slurp.
Then a burp.
Rosie has always wanted a dog, so when her dad brings home Pepsi, a rescue dog, she is really excited. the problem is – Pepsi is excited too. She is a young blue heeler, with lots of energy and not much training. From the moment Dad brings her home, she causes trouble – running around, knocking things over and eating whatever she can. But Rosie loves her. The trouble is, Mum isn’t very keen. Pepsi makes lots of mess, digs holes int eh garden, and is much bigger than Mum expected. Rosie needs to figure out how to train Pepsi, and fast, or Pepsi might be sent away.
Pepsi the Problem Puppy is a junior novel about pets and families. Rosie is a dog-loving girl and part of a loving but busy family which includes her younger brother, parents and an elderly great-grandmother. Pepsi is recognisable to anyone who has ever met a young blue heeler – excitable, enthusiastic, but also very loyal. The story moves at a good pace, supported by humorous, warm grey-scale illustrations from the artist Aska.
Kids will love Pepsi and her adventures.
Pepsi the Problem Puppy, by Sandi Parsons, illustrated by Aska
Faraway Nearby Ink, 2017