Monday 1 August 2022

Looking For Lily

Looking For Lily by Kristy Nita Brown & Alison Mutton (Kristy Nita Brown) Paperback RRP $14.95 ISBN 978 0 646 857442

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

After five years of hard work, Kristy Nita Brown proudly presents Looking for Lily, a junior fiction chapter book about the inner strength and determination that emerges when a best friend is in danger. Lily’s siblings, twins Talia and Marri, and Dawn wake up to find her missing. They seek clues and learn to work with an annoying old fish, Winston. Along the way they solve mysteries and learn more about their environment.

Kristy Nita Brown has written a lively and imaginative story that builds with each chapter. The strong characterisation and plot line keep the reader wanting to know what will happen next. The opening engages the reader into the story immediately. Have you ever seen a sprite? Maybe you have and didn’t realise it. Maybe you thought you saw a dragonfly zip past you on a hot day, but actually... 

The settings of the bush, small farm and dam are all places younger children can relate to. The dialogue not only advances the story but showcases each character’s personality. Talia groans. ‘This day keeps on getting better and better.’ The simple and compound sentences are perfect for this readership and ensure the text is highly engaging. I love that the main characters are sprites: they are like a cross between a fairy and a dragonfly. This adds a whimsical touch of magical charm. A child reader could almost imagine spying a sprite themselves. The layering gives the reader enough room to make their own conclusions and to piece the information together just like the characters do. The ending allows for a sequel. As she follows Winston to the netting, she thinks about the boy in the apple orchard who made the traps and the big yellow tractor that tripped out the trees. Somehow, deep down, Talia knows this is all connected.

Alison Mutton’s cartoon-like black and white illustrations add more story to the text and give individual personality to each character. Marri drums madly with two teeny tiny jarrah sticks. Talia belts out a song into a gumnut cup. The magpie feathers used to head each chapter are visually appealing and magpies feature in the story. The illustrations show that Mutton has immersed herself inside the story and not just added images to the text. I love the illustration of Dawn when she glows and catches on fire like a supernova, brighter than any galaxy. The images help a younger reader cinematise as they read along.

Looking for Lilly is a novel for children aged six years and older. The sprites will appeal to younger children that love to solve little mysterious. Although set in a real life setting the sprites are imaginary just like May Gibbs gumnut babies.  This is a story that has old-fashioned magic.  Looking for Lilly is perfect for an early reader and because it’s the first in a series it means there’s more exciting reading fun to come.

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