Sunday 10 September 2023

Mavey & Beth’s Double Act: Where’s My Whistle?

Mavey & Beth’s Double Act: Where’s My Whistle? by Kristy Nita Brown & Alison Mutton (Spritely Press) Paperback RRP $12.99 ISBN 978 0 646879741

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Kristy Nita-Brown is a junior fiction author from Western Australia. Her debut chapter book was shortlisted in the 2023 West Australian Young Reader’s Book award. Alison Mutton is also from Western Australia. She forms the second half of this creative team. Along with Lisa Van der Wellen, she won the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators Spark Award for best picture book Little Dune.

Mavey and Beth are twin girls that each have has own unique personality. Mavey loves music class and is excited to be singing in the end-of-the-year concert. But everyone will also be whistling and Mavey can’t whistle. And to make matters worse, Beth can whistle beautifully.

Brown has written a junior novel that is fun, engaging and child centred. Everyone loves twin stories and when one twin can do something and the other one can’t, it will cause one to worry. I look at my hands. They are shaking. I quickly stick them to my sides and stare straight ahead. I think not being able to whistle is not really talked about so it’s a great topic choice.

The child voice and dialogue really make this book sing.  ‘Mavey, you’re quiet today,’ Mum says. ‘Is everything alright?’ I stop biting my nails and nod. I love how the internal world of Mavey is explored: it lets the reader feel Mavey’s emotions. The sentences are short and simple, and the language is easy to read and understand. 

A beginner reader will enjoy this book. The setting of the story is home and school, this allows a child to bring their own knowledge to the text. I love how once everyone in the family knows Mavey’s problem they all try and help her. Mavey’s attempts show that you need to have quite a few goes or come up with a creative way yourself to solve a problem.

Mutton’s eye-catching cover of the twins in front of a star and one with a recorder instantly show that this story is about twins and music. The black and white illustrations add visual information that’s engaging and give the story flavour and fun. There are just enough illustrations to keep a beginner reader page turning. Mavey’s frustration and worry at not being able to whistle is well depicted.  The characters are all distinct, even the twins. The faces are expressive and create individual personality. Mutton’s book design is well done, and each chapter starts with an illustration.

Mavey and Beth’s Double Act: Where’s My Whistle? is a great choice as a beginner reader for children aged five to nine. The themes of creative thinking and solving a problem for yourself are important to this age group. This is the second book by this Western Australian team, and I don’t think it will be their last.

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