Review Blog

Jan 25 2017

Stories from Stella Street : 3 books in 1 by Elizabeth Honey

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Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781760292256
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. This compilation contains 45 and 47 Stella Street and Everything that Happened, Fiddle-Back and The Ballad of Cauldron Bay. Themes: Family; Adventure; Writing; Relationships; Holidays.
This 3-in-1 Omnibus by Elizabeth Honey is an absolute delight to read. Written in the voice of young aspiring writer, Henni Octon, about her personal adventures with the friends and neighbours in Stella Street, and begins with a wonderful adventure when they uncover 'The Phonies' who have moved in to Stella Street. Henni's friends and family are revealed with all their wonderful quirks and personality idiosyncrasies, including her good friend - Zev, who has 'electric hair'. Henni, as the naively open writer of all three stories, reveals a wonderful and innocent view of the world that sees much and understands more about how connections in community really work. The second story happens when multiple Stella Street families combine in a 'life-changing' bush holiday and adventure. Henni shares the story of simple and honest revelry of enjoying a camping holiday, which is interrupted by an amazing storm, new life and a group of unscrupulous locals who are bent on destroying the pristine environment and the 'Fiddle-back' for their own gains. The wonderful interactions between adults and children in the beautiful surrounds are just glorious. And in the final story, Stella Street adults and children go on another holiday to a wildly natural beachside holiday house with all the excitement of freedom and the stories that naturally flow when the children are free to explore with minimal adult direction - and definitely no technology. Into this normally wonderful Stella Street experience, a young and troubled outsider arrives. This creates all sorts of personal challenges for Henni, who celebrates her 13th birthday at the beginning of the story. This book marks the beginning of the changes in Henni and her understanding of herself, but it also demonstrates to the reader the challenges and joys of growing up.
I have loved all these stories, and even though the first in the series is now 21 years old, they have not lost any of their charm and animated enthusiasm. Henni matures in the course of the three books, but retains a careful naivety and maturity despite her years, as she enjoys childhood with vitality and spirit. Elizabeth Honey as author of the series does not patronise a child reader in this series (Note: In Fiddle-back, a baby is delivered in the bush, and the details are given in a child-friendly way, but without avoiding detail . . . after all every mother has to deliver a 'playcentre'! And in The Ballad of Cauldron Bay, the local surfies do use inappropriate language, but Henni records it with euphemistic style.)
Highly recommended for aged 10+. Each book can cater for a slightly older reader.
This compilation would also make a lovely gift for a holiday reading marathon!
Carolyn Hull

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