The four seasons of Lucy McKenzie by Kirsty Murray

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Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743317020.
(Age: (9-12) Highly recommended. When her sister falls ill and her mother has to go to Paris, Lucy McKenzie is sent to the country to stay with her Great Aunt Big, who lives in Avendale, an old house in a hidden valley. She is very unhappy about being there but then she discovers that the old house is full of mysteries. One night she hears a voice calling from inside a painting on the wall and entering the scene becomes friends with three children on the other side of the painting. There she has many adventures, fighting a bushfire, battling a flood and riding horses through the bush. But why has Lucy been taken to the 1930's and why does she need to befriend April, Tom and Jimmy Tiger?
This is a very engaging time-slip novel, bringing to life what it was like to live in the country in the 1930's and contrasting it with life today. Murray keeps up the suspense about what is happening and who the children are as Lucy gradually becomes friends with them and learns that she has abilities to help in times of danger. It is the knowledge that Lucy brings from the 21st century that helps to put out a bushfire and save the family's house. The mystery surrounding the children is beautifully realised as Lucy begins to grow and mature.
Murray also subtly looks at the role of women in the 1930's. As Lucy gradually begins to appreciate her aunt's eccentric personality and stops hating being at Avendale, she finds Big has had to sacrifice her own career to look after father. However she is not a bitter person, but one who appreciates the beauty of the countryside and her paintings of it. Lucy discovers from her friendship with Lucy that regardless of age, you are still the same person inside.
Lucy also has to think about what would happen if she changed the future through her actions in the past. Even though she tries to warn Tom not to go to war she realises the consequences of her actions.
True to life characters, a beautiful bush setting, and a look at life in the 1930s make this a fascinating and worthwhile read.
Pat Pledger