Tuesday 10 September 2013

Spooky House

Spooky House written by Sally Rippin & illustrated by Aki Fukuoka (Hardie Grant Egmont)
ISBN 978-174297651-8
PB RRP $9.95 
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

The readers of Billie B Brown are now a little older, and Billie B is growing up with them. The first in a new Billie B Mystery series, Spooky House is a chapter book, suitable for readers around eight or nine years old. Quirky illustrations accompany the text which is more mature than the previous Billie B books, containing longer sentences and decreased print size. Interesting words are highlighted in bold.

The story begins in the playground with Billie B and her gang of friends: Alex, Mika and Billie's best friend from next door, Jack. With Jack's dog Scrap, they make up the Secret Mystery Club, SMC for short (a younger, Aussie version of the Famous Five). Keen to find a spooky mystery to solve, Billie B doesn't let the truth get in her way. She invents a story about a witch who lives in an old house in her street. In doing this she scares her friends, particularly Jack.

Like all good stories, things are never as they seem. Billie B is shocked when she knocks on the door of the spooky house, to find a woman who really looks like a witch. She then must use all her courage to return to the house and 'save' her friend Jack. An admirable main character, Billie B is a gutsy girl. Even if she makes mistakes sometimes, she does the right thing in the end.

This lively story starts the series with aplomb. Full page black and white illustrations help the story along, effectively showing Billie B's feelings. The last couple of pages of the book introduce the sequel, involving a mystery code. Readers can look forward to seeing what Billie B and her friends do next. 

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