Review Blog

Jan 15 2020

Don't follow Vee by Oliver Phommanvanh

cover image

Puffin, 2019. ISBN: 9780143505747. hbk., 192pp.
Vee has always gone along with her mother's taking a picture each morning to put on her Instagram account called 'The Chronicles of Vee' - an account her Mum started when she was a baby. Vee always says yes when Mum asks her if it is OK to continue, but this year is different. Vee is in high school, and Mum has begun accepting things from businesses to have Vee wear at school and show online. She has also started trying to jazz up Vee's life and show baby pictures. She tries being anti-Vee, doing things that Mum would hate, attempting to turn the account upside down, but she gains more followers! Mum is aiming for 150,000 followers so Vee must find a way to stop it all. So she turns the table on her mother, snapping her one morning before she wakes. She encourages her mother to get out more, join a singing group and meet new friends. As her strategies begin to work, Vee almost loses her best friend, Annabelle.
This is an excellent middle-primary book about the use of the mobile phone, of friendship and family. Phommanvanh's humour is a treat, easy to read and laugh out loud at the antics of Vee as she tries to subvert her mother's interference in her life without causing mayhem in the house.
Along the way are some neat sideswipes at the power of the mobile phone, as children cannot wait to see the number of likes, or what the next instalment of Vee's life is about or how many burgers her friend Bryan has eaten, or what Mum is doing to get her daughter noticed. The underlining imperative of 'get a life' appealed to me and will touch those who read the book and may find that reading it better than looking at a screen!
And I loved Vee, trying hard not to upset her mum who has brought her up alone but equally aware that she needs to focus on something else, and make a life for herself. I hope there will be another instalment of Vee's life, as her character is hard to let go.
At the end of the book is a teaser of the first three chapters of The other Christy. This was published in 2016 and is equally as enjoyable, so it will gain another audience after kids have enjoyed Don't Follow Vee.
Fran Knight

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