Saturday 26 November 2022

Zola and the Christmas Lights

Zola and the Christmas Lights written by Melina Marchetta, illustrated by Deb Hudson (Puffin Books by Penguin Random House) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN 978014377749

Reviewed by Sarah Tegerdine

Zola and the Christmas Lights is a reflective and heartfelt exploration of family, diversity, community, light, hope and love.

It is nearing Christmas and Zola’s class is about to break for the summer school holidays. Just before the bell goes, Ms Divis, Zola’s favourite teacher, encourages the class to reflect on their learnings about the various traditions and celebrations held by different cultures. Reminding them that ‘not all’ celebrate Christmas but poses the question ‘What do they all have in common?’ Zola is left pondering the answer.

Walking home with her Nonna Rosa and younger cousin Alessandro, she enquires if they will be putting up Christmas lights. But Zola’s Nonna withdraws from the conversation, Christmas hasn’t been the same since they lost Nonno. But Zola remembers…

Then, a few short days before Christmas, Zola is in the kitchen helping her Mummy and Nonna prepare meals for the people in their local community who have fallen on hard times. She is sent to the cellar to fetch some bottled sauce. She collects the sauce but becomes distracted and forgets to close the door behind her. Time passes while they have been out and return home to discover that their two dogs (Monty and Gigi) have been into the cellar, to which chaos has ensued.

But from the chaos something unexpected appears that leaves Zola and her family filled with wonder and memories.

Melina Marchetta has woven the perfect story this festive season, Zola and the Christmas Lights is a true celebration of togetherness. The illustrations by Deb Hudson simply dazzle and delight with every turn of the page.






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