'Sun' and 'Star' by Natalie Jane Prior

This is where the sun shines…

This is what the star sees…

Sun and Star are two small format hardbacks from ABC Books. Sun shows the sun rising and some of the baby animals it shines on. The sun shines on seals, birds, bees and more. Each baby animal is entreated to ‘Rise and shine!’ and to welcome in the morning in their own special way. Last of all, the sun shines into a house on drowsy children. They jump into bed with Mum and Dad and together welcome the day. Sun is a welcome to the morning, and Star is saying goodnight. First, it sees a sailor’s cat and bids it goodnight. Sheep, a glow-worm, a dog and a teddy are all watched by the star as they settle to sleep. Each is gentled to close their eyes for the night. Then it is baby’s turn. ‘Hush, little baby. Close your eyes. Goodnight.’

Sun and Star are simply beautiful. The gentle rhythms of Natalie Jane Prior’s words float along on gentle watercolours through a range of landscapes. The same sun, the same star, look down on town and country, winter and summer, mountain and ocean. Sun shines on rocky ocean and wakes seal pups, shines in a forest and wakes the songbirds. A variety of environments are presented with the animals that live there. Each is greeted with a reminder-rhyme to do their bit in waking up the day. Star journeys through similar, but not the same landscapes to turn down the glow and calm the dog. Both use gentle rhythm and repetition. Recommended for late lie-in-bed mornings, and early peaceful nights.

Sun & Star Natalie Jane Prior Ill Anna Pignataro
ABC Books 2008
ISBN: Sun: 9780733322433
Star: 9780733322440

Minnie Pearl and the Undersea Bazaar, by Natalie Jane Prior

Every morning, when they had eaten their seaweed-flakes, they swam through the Bazaar’s golden doors. Minnie helped her mother, Marina, put new gowns on the racks for the mer-models to wear in the day’s fashion parade and then she tidied the changing rooms in Modes and Jewellery.

Minnie Pearl and her parents live behind their shop, the Undersea Bazaar. Minnie helps in the shop when she’s not attending school and learning what to do if she should ever encounter a human. She dreams of being an explorer. Then the wide-smiling Manta Ray opens her Marine Emporium next door and everything begins to change. All the fashionable mermaids flock to Manta’s shop, even Aunt Kelpie is seduced. Minnie’s parents begin to frown as they do the accounts. Minnie determines to help them save their business. She follows Manta and discovers where the newcomer finds her stock. Returning home isn’t quite as easy as she expected and humans aren’t quite as they have been portrayed.

Minnie Pearl and the Underwater Bazaar is a longer picture book for lower to middle primary readers. Minnie is an independent, resourceful heroine determined to help her parents save their shop. Others are happy to follow unquestioningly, but not Minnie. Themes include prejudice against those who are different, and the risks inherent in blindly following fashion trends. The text brings to life an underwater community complete with seahorse-as-pets and sandwiches full of sea-cucumber slices. Cheryl Orsini’s illustrations are full of witty and humorous details, particularly in the stock of both shops. Recommended for lower to middle primary readers.

Minnie Pearl and the Undersea Bazaar, by Natalie Jane Prior & Cheryl Orsini
ABC Books 2007
ISBN: 9780733320149

The Paw Collection, by Natalie Jane Prior

During the day Leonie was a schoolgirl.
At night she was a cat-burglar. While the world was asleep, she put on her cat costume and prowled the alleyways by moonlight.
Nothing was safe when Leonie was about.

Leonie is the world’s cheekiest (and possibly also youngest) cat-burglar. Modelling herself on Robin Hood, she steals from the rich and gives to the poor. She leaves opals in Saint Vinnies bins and writes out cheques for charitable foundations. Along the way she foils the plans of plenty of real crooks.

The Paw Collection brings together three previously published stories about the Paw, in a new chapter book format, with new illustrations by the talented Terry Denton. The humour and outlandish plots, coupled with Denton’s trademark silly illustrations make the book sure to appeal to readers aged six to ten.

What fun!

The Paw Collection, by Natalie Jane Prior, illustrated by Terry Denton
Working Title Press, 2007

The Star Locket, by Natalie Jane Prior

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe


The story revolves around one star-shaped locket split into two halves in an attempt to foil the plans of the evil Casimirites. Two identical girls each have a half of the locket. But only one of the girls is real. The other has been created by magic. But which one?

The two girls were separated and raised in different parts of the worlds, but then Sally Taverner comes to Starberg where she sees Estee Merton. It is like looking into a mirror. But how can this be?

Each of the girls is left with same question : Who is this stranger who looks like her?

When Estee and Sally finally meet, they discover the truth about themselves.

‘She is you and you are her….You are the one person who has been magically split in two,’ Anna von Homrigh, leader of the group who opposes Richard Greitz and his occult arts, tells them.

From Anna the girls learn that if the halves of the star shaped locket are joined back together, one of them will cease to exist. But no-one knows which one.

This novel is filled with action, mystery and raises a lot of questions about good and evil, what makes a person human, choices, and how one person’s choice can have far reaching consequences.

‘There is always a choice’ Anna says.

In the end, Estee and Sally make a choice. A choice that will not please everyone, especially Stephen Melhuish, nephew of the British Prime Minister.

Although this is a companion novel to Fireworks and Darkness, readers do not have to have read the first book to appreciate the second.

This is an inventive and thought-provoking fantasy that will appeal to readers aged 11-14.

The Star Locket by Natalie Jane Prior Angus &Robertson, An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2006

Paperback $15.99