Review Blog

Feb 14 2011

The secret message by Sally Rippin

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Hardie Grant Egmont, 2011. ISBN 9781921759581.
Recommended. Younger readers. The series about Billie B Brown is developing as Sally Rippin shows her smart character in a range of situations in which many children would find themselves. The first in the series that I read was The perfect present, showing Billie finding a bicycle in the shed before Christmas and assuming it was for her. The story showcased her disappointment when she finds out that it is for the boy next door.
Similarly, in The secret message, Billie is at the beach and longs to be friendly with a pair of sisters building a sandcastle nearby. She does several things to get their attention, eventually pretending to find a bottle with a message inside it. They play and she falls onto their sandcastle, so embarrassed that she moves back with her family. The bottle is used as a ploy to send a letter of apology to the girls and she is accepted back in the group. A gentle story of making friends, of disappointment and forgiveness, Rippin subtly leads the readers to ask the questions they need to ask about the situation.
These will be eagerly picked up by younger students, starting to read chapter books, and helped along with Aki Fukuoka's illustrations. Billie is a wonderful character, full of life, but also making mistakes for which she then must work out a solution.
Fran Knight

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