Review Blog

Mar 18 2019

52 Mondays by Anna Ciddor

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Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760523480.
(Age: 9-12) Recommended. Themes: Family life, Jewish peoples, Dolls. Anne Ciddor's 52 Mondays is a gentle evocative middle-grade novel set in the 1960s. She reminisces about her childhood, her family's Jewish heritage and celebrations and everyday life with her three younger sisters. Central to the story is Anne's desire to own an antique doll and her mother's willingness to fulfil her wish. Ciddor's memories draw from the sights, sounds and smells of her youth; she vividly paints school and home life, scorching summer days, sliding across the hot car seats without seatbelts, warm bottles of milk at recess, and days filled with simpler pleasures.
Annie's love of antique dolls comes from being enthralled with 5Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, an historic book told from the little wooden toy's point of view. The idea for visiting the auction house weekly stems from the final chapter of the 1920's story. Each Monday, Anna's mother bundles up the three sisters and off they go. Anna's anguish, desperation and desire to own her own doll drives the narrative.
High days and holidays, Friday night meals, families sharing the Passover story, Anna lovingly describes her religious upbringing. The glossary explains the Hebrew and Yiddish words and phrases used throughout. Buying ice-creams for half a penny, and trying Deb instant mashed potato bought from a big supermarket instead of a local store are fun new experiences. Even Nana Nomi's Shabbat meal cooked with kosher chicken sold plucked and cut in pieces and served with packet noodles show the changing times.
Anna Ciddor's semi-autobiographical novel is an enjoyable and gently-paced read, sharing her insights into ordinary family life, schooling and after school activities. Gorgeous sensory descriptions of preparing and sharing meals, hairstyles and clothing, sibling fun, birthday parties, even the effects of the mumps is creatively presented. 52 Mondays opens up the history of Australian life in the 1960's to a new generation. It also gives opportunities for older family members to share and reminisce about their childhoods.
Rhyllis Bignell

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