Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Penelope Perfect: Very Private List for Camp Success

Penelope Perfect: Very Private List for Camp Success by Chrissie Perry (Hardie Grant Egmont)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9781760120254

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

This is the second Penelope Perfect novel by the author of the Go Girl series, Chrissie Perry. The narrative is punctuated with pictures and playful font, adding some elements of interest to key scenes. The series’ star is Penelope Kingston, a classic over-thinker who is anxious about all the important things in a primary school child’s life, like navigating friendship groups and dealing with playground conflict.

Penelope demonstrates a high level of self-awareness, and realises that her nervous feelings and angry outbursts need to be kept under control. There’s a lot of self-analysis at the beginning of the book as Penelope grapples with her worries, including writing herself a list of behavioural instructions to ensure her upcoming trip to a school camp goes smoothly.

The initial focus on her neuroses detracts somewhat from the narrative; however, the second half the book takes a more enjoyable turn as the reader is transported to the world of school camp and a cast of schoolkid characters. Penelope faces the ups and downs of mean girls and friendship alliances before it’s time to face her ultimate school camp fear – tackling an intimidating, high swing challenge. The book comes to a satisfying close as loose ends are neatly tied up. Penelope demonstrates inner growth and a realisation that sometimes, expectations of perfection need to be loosened a little to achieve ‘success’.

This is a fun read for the 7 to 10 year old female market, featuring anxieties that many children of this age would relate to. Despite the book’s heavy focus on tackling insecurities, the characters, plot and tension draw the reader in, and ultimately reveal an increasingly relatable and likeable Penelope who you can’t help but cheer for.

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