Saturday, 7 September 2013

Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door

Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Hannah Shaw (Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $9.99
ISBN 978-1-74283-710-9
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Granny is moving in with Elmo and his family and they need to find a bigger home. Mr Crocodile shows them many houses and Elmo and his sister fall in love with a rundown house surrounded by a large, scruffy jungle garden. But Mum and Dad fall for the house next door, neater, tidier and much more practical. Still, Elmo and his sister can play in the jungle garden and empty house next door. Until one day, a moving van arrives and mean old Mr Birdsnest moves in. The jungle garden becomes out of bounds. However, when granny goes missing and the children spy her through a window next door, they must risk everything to get her back.

Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door is full of lovely characters. Elmo’s nicknames for people are wonderfully descriptive and the children have fabulous curiosity, imagination and a love for exploration. Donaldson writes really well, with an intriguing plot and fun characters, including two cats, Tiger and Panther, which keeps a reader hooked.

The great black and white illustrations throughout the story break up the pages of words, easing the reading and populate the pages with birds, insects and animals creating the jungle atmosphere. There are instructions for drawing jungle birds inside the back cover and masses of birds and butterflies crowd the endpapers.

This is an entertaining story to read aloud to children of five plus and would also be perfect as a read alone for confident early readers.

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