Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Turning Cartwheels

Turning Cartwheels by Amy Adeney, illustrated by Amy Calautti (EK Books) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 978 1 925820775

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

At lunchtime, Emma wants to be in the cool kids Cartwheel Club. She shows determination and resilience by practising at home until she can perform cartwheels. Finally, Carly allows her into the Cartwheel Club but now the rules keep changing and there are all sorts of cartwheels to learn. Emma keeps on trying until she realises that being in the playground should be fun and not full of rules that please someone else. In the end she chooses to take back her power and not give it away.

 

At school, kids want to fit in and be a part of a group where they belong. Sometimes a child will push themselves to do just about anything to be included. Amy Adeney’s message of choosing to do what is right for you is powerful. She cleverly shows us each character’s personality and quirks with strong dialogue. There is a mix of short and long sentences in the story and there is vocabulary from gymnastics about doing cartwheels that builds knowledge. The text shows us what the characters are doing and how they are feeling inside. The blue page highlights Emma’s growth as a character without telling us what she is thinking. Adeny leaves space for the reader. This is an energetic story about choices and not staying in situations that don’t work for you.


Amy Calautti’s illustrations bring the text to life and add multiple layers of meaning to the story. The bright and colourful images of the school playground powerfully show the dynamics of friendship groups and power plays. In the playground there is a diverse mix of children depicted who are hoping to become a member of the Cartwheel Club. This silently and powerfully supports the text.  Emma’s Mum and baby sibling in the home scenes gives the reader more knowledge about Emma’s world. The many attempts by Emma to cartwheel in the images strongly reflect her character and personality. The front cover is eye-catching with its vivid green background and bright red text shaped like a wheel with Emma inside.

 Turning Cartwheels is a picture book for readers aged 3-8 years. Its message is an important one: being yourself and doing what you can do are the best things you can do. Parents and teachers alike will be drawn to this story and it is sure to be a winner on any bookshelf.  

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