Review Blog

Mar 07 2013

Violet Mackerel's possible friend by Anna Branford

cover image

Ill. by Sarah Davis. Walker Books, 2013. ISBN 9781921977565.
(Ages: 6+) Highly recommended. This is the fifth book in a series of adventures about lovable character Violet Mackerel. She has moved into her new house and is enjoying exploring her new surroundings. When Violet accidentally makes a hole in the neighbour's fence, Violet is initially worried, but her mother has told her a little girl of similar age may live next door, and she starts thinking about ideas and theories that will be helpful for friend-making. She sets her theory of 'swapping small things' into motion - based on the idea that if two people exchange something small, they will become good friends - like her mother and Vincent did when they exchanged rings during their wedding ceremony in the garden. From her box of small things, Violet selects a tiny bell she has been saving for something important and leaves it sitting in the hole in the fence with a handwritten note, apologising for making the hole. When she finds her gift has been replaced by one wrapped in purple paper with an enclosed invitation from Rose - the little girl next door - to visit her house, her plan appears to be off to a good start. But the quest for friendship is a rocky road. Violet finds herself surrounded by big and beautiful things when she visits Rose's home and is completely mesmerised by the loveliest doll-house she has ever seen in her bedroom, all pink and white. And Rose is not only wearing the most perfect dress, but has matching white socks with pink roses. Looking down at her own odd socks and skirt borrowed from her big sister Nicola - pegged at the waist for support - Violet doubts she could possibly be invited to Rose's birthday party. In fact, could Rose ever be more than just a possible friend?
This gorgeous story pays tribute to the beauty and value of small things, ideas, creativity, the natural world, families, reciprocity - and of course friendship. Davis's beautiful black and white illustrations of Violet, her family and friends capture the tender journey of a new friendship beautifully. Violet starts to question whether her simple and humble family life could ever compare to Rose's grand house and beautiful belongings. But her mother puts things into perspective for her: 'A good way of making yourself feel worried is by thinking about what you don't have and can't do... but a good trick for feeling better again is by thinking about what you do have and can do'. Violet is definitely a gorgeous-hearted little girl with many amazing gifts. Violet Mackerel's possible friend is a beautifully-crafted chapter book which will delight young girls aged 6 upwards, and mothers too. I loved it.
Michelle Hunt

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