Wednesday 13 March 2013

Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend

Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend by Anna Branford, illustrated by Sarah Davis (Walker Books)
HB RRP $19.95
ISBN 9781921977565
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Violet has moved into a new home. She goes on a discovery tour of the garden. She finds ants and rings of mushrooms. But it’s the knot in the fence that is the best find. She pushes it with her finger and through the hole it creates, she can see into the neighbour’s garden. It is a perfect garden, unlike theirs which is overrun with grasses.

Rose, a girl Violet’s age, lives there - a possible friend. Violet considers employing her Theory of Swapping Small Things as a stepping stone towards a friendly relationship.  But as the acquaintance progresses, Violet begins to feel bad about her preloved clothes, hand-made presents, and odd socks - seemingly imperfect things when measured against Rose’s beautiful and perfect new home and belongings.

Violet learns that comparing yourself and what you have, with what others are and have, can be painful. For what seems ordinary to the person that owns it, can appear a novelty to the other and that in true friendships, nobody notices these things anyway.

I’m a big fan of the Violet Mackerel books. They address concerns, fears and problems that children, and adults, frequently have, and approach them with an understanding of the problem and its resolution in a helpful manner. The tone of the narrative sounds just like the voice of a loving relative trying to relieve a child’s deep concern about something that is worrying them.

This is Book 5 in the delightful and insightful string of stories that also have some environmental flavour flowing within the major theme. The meaningful and well considered text is accentuated by Sarah Davis’ wonderful illustrations.

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