Friday 13 February 2015

Violet Mackerel’s Formal Occasion

Violet Mackerel’s Formal Occasion by Anna Branford, illustrated by Sarah Davis (Walker Books)
HC RRP $ 19.95
ISBN 9781925081091
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

My favourite girl character Violet Mackerel is back again. I adore the delightful interpretation of Anna Branford’s work by Sarah Davis. She is so familiar with every aspect of each character’s personality that there’s not an emotion that she can’t portray perfectly. I know these character’s intimately, the illustrations boast.

Best friends Violet and Rose are at the park twig-digging. Rose finds something and brushes the dirt away like archaeologists do. It’s a locket. Nicola, Violet’s sister, experienced at jewellery making, gives her expert opinion on how to clean it. The girls decide to share the locket, but are preoccupied with the original owner and their loss.

Rose’s grandparents are visiting from overseas and plan to take the girls out for morning tea somewhere special. It is a formal occasion so they must dress up in their best clothes and comb their hair in a special braid to look elegant.

Violet still worries about the owner of the locket and their feelings of loss. Rose’s grandparents relate a story about a ring they lost years ago while young. They all discuss theories on things lost and found. They imagine who could have found the ring. Perhaps it had been someone who couldn’t afford one and needed it for their loved one? Possibilities are suggested. The girls decide to prepare a letter and bury it where the locket was found in case someone returns to search for it.

When mum’s basket of knitted things gets lost after she rests it on a seat for a moment, the theory of losing small things comes into play again. Violet and Rose find lots of ways to cheer mum up with their thoughtful and creative gifts, stories and theories on who may have found the knitted things, and what they could have been used for. They prepare a delightful formal occasion for mum as well, which proves to be the icing on the cake.

This perfectly crafted story has thought-provoking themes. Apart from the priceless value of family and friends, it has amazing alternate and almost profound ways of looking at things that get lost by reversing them to think about the finders of lost things. Ideal for the 5+ age group but also enjoyed by many adult fans as well.

I love the way new and unusual words are highlighted in bold and varying text to accentuate their individuality and newness. This encourages young readers to use their dictionaries or question the meaning of the words.

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