Review Blog

Oct 20 2010

Totally twins: Musical Mayhem by Aleesha Darlison

cover image

Ill. by Serena Geddes. New Frontier, 2010. ISBN 9781921042348.
(Age 7-10) Highly recommended for girls. Persephone and Portia Pinchgut are twins and there is total mayhem when Portia drags Perse along to the audition of the school musical. Perse cannot sing, in fact her singing is so bad that her fellow classmates can remember the last time she sang and still tease her about it. She is terrified of appearing in public but her secret diary is a great consolation as she reveals her inner turmoil. Fortunately Perse can think on her feet and she manages to get herself out of hot water!
It's great to see a chapter book for girls where the humour is infectious. Darlison has the happy knack of writing funny dialogue and descriptions that made me laugh out loud at times. The diary format will appeal to young readers especially as Perse has a unique way of expressing herself. There are many instances of vivid imagery, like Perse being afraid that she is going 'to make a total gooper' of herself with her 'horrendous cat-getting-its-tail-pulled-singing' (pg 20), that will enthral the reader and keep up a high level of interest.
However it is not just the humour that entices the reader. I was touched by Perse's descriptions of her rivalry with her sister Portia, who comes across as confident and popular, while Perse is much quieter and more sensible. With her father far away and her mother preoccupied with her yoga and laughter therapy, it is her diary that provides her with the opportunity to work out her thoughts and emotions. Perse is a wonderful character that children will identify with. She is strong enough to acknowledge her shortcomings and work out ways to get round them.
Black and white line drawings by Serena Geddes are interspersed throughout and add to the interest. I especially liked the illustrations of the twins that complement the humour in the book.
Activities and colouring in pages can be found at Darlison's site.
I can see this book being used as a read aloud by librarians and class teachers for its zany humour. I look forward to the next book in what I think will be a very popular series.
Pat Pledger

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