Review Blog

Jul 24 2014

Kelsey and the quest of the porcelain doll by Rosanne Hawke

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University of Queensland Press, 2014. ISBN 9780702253317.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Pakistan. Floods. Family. Dolls. When Kelsey goes to Pakistan where her parents will assist with the aftermath of devastating floods, the girl is unsympathetic. She would prefer to stay at home with her friends, her bedroom with its collection of Barbie dolls, her friend's swimming pool and her beloved Nanna Rose. But little by little she becomes involved in the lives of the family of her father's co-worker, and begins to open her eyes to the chaos that has destroyed their lives. While she watches her father help build new houses for those who have lost everything they had, and her mother attend to those who come into her clinic, Kelsey befriends Shakila, and offers her the doll she brought with her from Australia.
Communicating via Skype, Nanna Rose sees just how ill-at-ease Kelsey is at the start and begins to tell her a story which continues every time they speak. The story of Amy Jo, a porcelain doll which is posted to a little girl, gets lost in the process then has a quest to find her owner and the person who will love her. The two stories are told in alternate chapters, and eventually intersect but not before the reader has been given an insight into another country which will stay with them long after the book is finished. Rosanne's stories always have an underlying affinity for those with lives far less comfortable than our own, opening the readers' hearts and minds to people living in quite different worlds, showing us that our thoughts are not so different, as we all value family, friendship and love.
With this wonderful story, Kelsey's eyes reflect the devastation of the floods, the tireless efforts by many to rebuild Pakistan, and so makes the background of the people's lives an important part of the story.
For classes, this would be an essential part of any unit concerned with multiculturalism, looking at other countries, taking a world view of society and specifically teaching about Pakistan.
Fran Knight

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