Wednesday 15 April 2015

Lily the Elf: The Midnight Owl

Lily the Elf: The Midnight Owl by Anna Branford, illustrated by Lisa Coutts (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 7.95
ISBN 9781925081053

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Children’s fears and insecurities are the themes that Anna Branford has chosen to address in this first book of her new series for emerging readers. It introduces Lily the Elf and themes of imagining, overcoming fears, and learning to be brave.

Lily lives with her dad in a tiny house under a bridge. Her granny lives in a flat at the back of their house.

Lily can’t sleep. All she hears is the spooky questioning hoot of the owl. To both her granny and dad, the sound is a welcome one. But their encouraging words don’t help the tiny Lily. Granny suggests an adventure. Perhaps seeing the owl face-to-face would change things for Lily.

Lily prepares herself by practising at being brave. Will reading a scary book, going into a dark cellar or jumping off a high toadstool make her braver? She dresses brave. In the mirror she looks brave. Will these things help?

It’s the feather that granny shows her and the story connected to it that opens up other possibilities for Lily. The themes weave through the simple text accompanied by black and white illustrations that depict the loving family and the close relationship they share. A happy, embracing story with a message that things imagined, are not always what they first seem.

Delightfully delicate like the tiny elf, this story promises readers, mainly girls of the 5+ age, a new and interesting character that becomes involved in challenging adventures with a positive outcome. This will surely create as strong an interest in younger readers as the highly successful Violet Mackerel books did for an older age.

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