Lilliput the kangaroo by Sarah Bellman. Illus. by Krista Brennan

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There is a definite echo of Alice in Wonderland in Lillipit. The main character Alyce has long blonde hair, is wearing a blue dress with a white collar and ventures into a rather magical world in her own backyard. There is even a tea party. While this is a sweet story, the writing is quite prescriptive and straightforward, lacking the magic or spark that this sort of tale deserves. Five-year-old Alyce and her younger brother have just moved to a new house on a farm in the Macedon Ranges. Alyce is worried about starting school and finding friends but she has no trouble making friends with the local kangaroos. One day while playing she reaches out to pat a friendly kangaroo and is surprised to find it talking to her: "'My name is Lillipit. It is lovely to meet you, Alyce,' said the kangaroo." A pouch tour of the farm and meeting all the resident animals is followed by a tulip tea party in the forest with Cherry the white echidna. The setting is quintessentially Australian and the watercolour illustrations are sweet. Lillipit the kangaroo delivers Alyce safely back to her house and tells her how to contact her if she needs her. "You are very special, Alyce, and I am here for you if you need me." There is a slightly worrying tone of secrets and talking to and going off with strangers, but this is alleviated at the end of the story by the following line: "Alyce ran inside to tell her mum and dad all about Lillipit and her home". This is definitely something to clarify with young children after reading this though - that we wouldn't just tell people we have just met outside our house about our lives or go off with them on an adventure. A nice story about new adventures and the magic of the Aussie environment.

Themes: Adventure stories, Australian stories.

Nicole Nelson