Review Blog

Sep 20 2011

Northwood by Brian Falkner

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Walker, 2011. ISBN: 978 1 921529 80 1.
Recommended for ages 9 and up. Nothing about Cecilia Undergarment's life is ordinary. In addition to her most unusual name, she lives with her parents in a six storey house, which looks like a bunch of balloons, and is able to speak to and understand animals and vice versa. When she and their maid rescue (or kidnap) Rocky, the dog owned by Mr. Proctor from next door, she becomes involved in a major adventure. Her attic room detaches itself from the rest of the house and drifts off in the direction of the forests of Northwood. Once the balloon comes to rest in the top of a tree, she and Rocky disembark and investigate the forest. They meet the other inhabitants of the area and attempt to rescue those who live there and take them back to her home. Not everything goes quite according to plan, however, and she meets with some resistance.
This title, although containing many everyday events and needs, crosses into the realms of almost parallel universes or fantasy worlds. Cecilia is a champion for the 'underdog' (no pun intended!) as she tries to support the inhabitants of the forest, particularly those who have not known any other life. She displays independence, compassion, persistence and resourcefulness as she fights for that in which she believes. Although she knows life is sometimes less than perfect, she endeavours to make things better for all whom she meets. Young children will undoubtedly enjoy reading about a girl of their own age, able to outsmart the 'unsavoury' adults in the tale, and be swept up in this adventure. Short chapters, double spaced print and full page illustrations liberally scattered throughout make this an easily accessible tale for younger, more competent readers through to the older children who are looking for an easy read.
Jo Schenkel

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