Review Blog

Nov 17 2014

Plenty by Ananda Braxton-Smith

cover image

Black Dog Books, 2014. ISBN 9781742032429
I would highly recommend this novel for competent readers from 9 -12 years. Themes: Identity, Family life, Friendship, Dementia, Fairies, Botany. Ten year old Maddie's life is ordered, she is the Keeper of the Street, Queen of the back Lane and Friend to Dogs. She loves her life, her school and has wonderful friends, including Sophie Rose, who has been a friend since birth. Her eleventh birthday celebrations are marred by her parents revelation they are moving to the country. Maddie's world, her stability, her identity, her friendships are all under threat. Written with a depth of understanding about the feelings of homelessness, Ananda Braxton-Smith gives Maddie's feelings of anger, isolation and disbelief a powerful voice.
Their move to the small town of Plenty, on the slopes of Mount Disappointment on a road called the Deviation is a difficult adjustment for Maddie. Her Nana Mad's greenhouse and love for native orchids helps to slowly bring Maddie's life around. Her new friendship with Grace a Sudanese refugee helps Maddie transition as well.
This novel is a wonderfully rich, honest portrayal of a young girl's search for identity. Her feelings of anger, upheaval and uncertainty as well as love and are written with real insight. Underpinning the narrative are the gentle stories of magic, belief in fairies, aboriginal dreaming and the stories of the formation of the constellations. Grace's story of her acceptance of life in a Sudanese refugee camp and Maddie's mother's story of fleeing from the war in Cyprus add depth to the themes of identity and our place in the world. Nana Mad's dementia and the way her family copes with her illness are also written with a special empathy. Teacher's notes are available.
Rhyllis Bignell

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