Guest Book Review: Rosabelle by Linda Harrington

rosabelle

Print Length: 208 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ASIN: B00M1TIJKG
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, animal stories

Rating: 4 stars
Rosabelle by Linda Harrington is a delightful children’s book set in rural New Zealand, in the 1970s. The main focus of the story falls upon 11-year-old Jane Williams, and their father’s racehorse, the titular Rosabelle. When Jane’s father has a suspicious accident at the racing stables, he is unable to work for a good while; this wreaks havoc upon the family’s finances, as well as family relationships since Jim Williams is a proud man, not used to accepting help from people. Rosabelle is the family’s last hope because she is such a good racer. However, finances are so tight that Jim even considers selling Rosabelle to his so-called friend and associate, Don O’Leary. But things are going wrong all round with various farmers’ sheep being stolen from farms. When Jane overhears O’Leary making sinister remarks about her father and Rosabelle, she is on the alert to his motives. Sadly, no one believes her until disaster strikes again and more sheep go missing. With the help of her friend Marta, and with information helpfully supplied by her teacher, Mr. Dunkerton, and with surprising assistance from Rosabelle herself, Jane sets out to expose Don O’Leary and get back those sheep. But it’s not going to be as easy as she thought!

The story unfolds slowly, and this enables young readers to really get to know Jane, her family and her friends, and also to learn about Rosabelle. The pace of living several decades ago was very different as well, and the author has a delightful way of describing rural life, as well as deftly inserting interesting snippets of historical information to place readers in the ’70s context. Readers also learn more about Jane’s family history (which has an interesting outcome), and might be keen to dig into their own family backgrounds as a result. There is enough horse detail to satisfy equine fans, without overpowering readers not as familiar with saddle soap and stables! I enjoyed this book very much; the author painted the entire story with loving strokes, imbuing it with a whimsical charm that seeps right through each page, making the ambiance, the era, the characters and their lives come to life. I especially enjoyed Jane’s Scottish teacher, the eccentric Mr. Dunkerton, and his bagpipes. The author includes a front map and a back glossary of unfamiliar words and terms which young readers will also enjoy, enabling them to place the location of the story and to understand the colloquial words and terms. This book will appeal to young readers and those who enjoy family oriented stories.

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: The Vanishing Frogs of Cascade Creek by Emma J. Homes

frogsPublisher: Spark Street Communications Pty Ltd (June 25, 2014)
Print Length: 44 pages
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, wildlife, environment
Age Level: 8-11
Five stars

Something is killing the waterfall frogs of Cascade Creek. Ten-year-old Ruthie, along with her mum and dad (Tom and Kate who are wildlife scientists), and Ruthie’s younger siblings, Liam and Bella, as well as their pet wombat, Womble, are headed off to the rainforests of Northern Queensland in their big green bus to investigate. The family has just spent 6 months helping to catch and tag shy rock wallabies. Cascade Creek promises a brand new adventure. Sadly, when they get there, the frogs have all but disappeared. Luckily the kids manage to find a frog (whom they call Wanda) but Wanda looks very sick. When they find a few tadpoles, the same situation prevails: the tadpoles are thin,  not plump and healthy as they should be. They get Wanda and the tadpoles back to the Wildlife Research Station so Kate can take a better look. Wanda seems to have some kind of skin condition. Is this killing the frogs of Cascade Creek and how can it be cured? Luckily, naughty Womble’s playful antics offer a surprising possible answer!

What a life Ruthie and her family enjoy, spending time away from the city and experiencing the wonders of nature. The kids do their lessons via school of the air and spend their days travelling with their parents around the beautiful Australian countryside. They learn about plants, animals, insects and a variety of indigenous creatures. They also learn about caring for the environment and the animals, and how important it is to preserve even the smallest of creatures, such as a little frog, because each creature has its part to play in the ecosystem. Author Emma Homes has a lovely way of inserting information about various animals, their habitats, food, and threats to their existence into the text. Ruthie is a wonderful role model for young readers and she is both compassionate and mature in her outlook. Hopefully this fascinating series will inspire young readers to look up more information about the animals that Ruthie and her family encounter. A delightful read that I highly recommend to all.

Purchase here.

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.