Saturday, 10 November 2012

Ella and Olivia: The New Girl

The New Girl (Ella and Olivia) The New Girl (Ella and Olivia) by Yvette Poshoglian, illustrated by Danielle McDonald (Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $7.99
ISBN 978-1-74283-499-3
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Ella is seven years old and starting year two. Olivia is five and a half and starting big school. Their brother Max is a baby and is “picking his nose. He is not quite ready for school yet.” But school starts a little more smoothly for Olivia than Ella because a new girl in year two presents challenges for Ella and her friends.

I love that the children in the Ella and Olivia series sort out their problems without teachers or other adults pointing the way too much. The issues explored are approached in a gentle manner. In this story, the problem is a new girl who is trying to fit in to the class, and comes across as mean and bossy.
The relationship Olivia has with her big sister’s friend is beautiful. Zoe loves and protects Olivia in the same way that Ella does. All the relationships in these stories have a realistic balance of jealousy, respect, love and annoyance.

Simple black and white illustrations of varying sizes are dotted throughout the chapter book. These are sweet but also enhance the text. One illustration shows Zoe and Ella sharing sandwiches at lunchtime while Millie, the new girl, sits by herself behind, watching them with a sad look. It is the first clue that Millie’s meanness may stem from loneliness. There is also a charming illustration of Ella’s family all walking to school together on the first day. It shows beautifully the togetherness of their family.

I highly recommend this series for all girls from the age of 5 up, regardless of reading ability. The large text makes it perfect for beginner readers, but it would be just as enjoyable for more experienced readers or as a read aloud at bedtime for those who are not reading yet. There is also a website to find out more, play games or do other fun stuff. Visit

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