Review Blog

May 23 2017

Welcome to Willowvale by Rebecca Johnson

cover image

Vet cadets bk 1. Penguin, 2017. ISBN 9780143782711
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. Boarding School. Veterinary training. Animal husbandry. School life. Horse riding. Friendship. Science. Biology. Parasites. Willowvale Girls Academy offers a special Vet Cadet Program for Year 7 girls. New students Hannah, Abbey and Talika, all have different family backgrounds but they all have one thing in common, they love animals, especially horses. As they settle into boarding school life, these three girls learn to rely on each other, value each other's differences and work together to solve several mysteries.
Abbey, Hannah and Talika learn about caring for farm animals, raising lambs, shearing sheep, caring for their horses and collecting parasites for their Science lessons. Talika's fat pony Pudding has a mind of its own and both Abbey and Hannah's assistance is needed to teach riding and grooming skills. When a neighbour's aggressive dog chases Talika and her pony, Abbey's farm skills come in to help. The treasure hunt for parasites adds a quirky scientific dimension as the three friends explore a nearby dam and capture airborne insects and those living on cows and sheep. This knowledge and the use of specialised scientific equipment assist them on their journey to solving the mystery of the sheep attacks.
Rebecca Johnson's background as a science educator and her love of animals is evident in this new series for middle primary readers. Welcome to Willowvale is an exciting introduction and is just right for readers who enjoy reading information and scientific facts in a novel format with strong girl role models. Friendship, learning resilience and working together to solve problems are positive themes presented here.
Rhyllis Bignell

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