The Beach Shack Cafe by Belinda Murrell

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Pippa's Island series, book 1. Penguin, 2017. ISBN 9780143783671
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. Themes: Friendship, Moving house, Islands, Family life, School stories, Restaurants and cafes. Belinda Murrell's enjoyable new series Pippa's Island celebrates family, friendship and food, with the idyllic setting of Kira Island providing wonderful opportunities for new experiences. Pippa Hamilton and her family have left everything familiar behind in London, their home, friends, schools, even their pet goldfish and moved half way across the world. This island is where her mother grew up and now Grandpa and Mimi are happy helping their grandchildren settle in. Mum is busy renovating the old boatshed into a bookshop cafe with an apartment upstairs. Pippa, her brother Harry and younger sister Bella have to face the challenges ahead of them, including sharing the cramped old caravan in their grandparent's backyard.
Pippa's arrival in Mrs Marshall's fifth grade class causes some problems, especially with Olivia who is usually top in Maths tests and becomes jealous of her. Soon the newcomer forms friends with 'eco-warrior Meg, boho-chick Charlie, and fashionista and cupcake baker Cici.' Pippa's quick thinking about their group project, designing a quest game set in Africa draws the girls together; each has useful skills to help in the construction and designing. Dance lessons and kayaking in the bay prove challenging for Pippa, these lessons are nothing like her activities in her London school,
The Beach Shack Cafe is a rewarding read; Belinda Murrell's novel portrays a cast of realistic characters facing the difficulties and rewards of family and school life. As the community draws together to make the opening of the bookshop cafe The Beach Shack a success, this is a time of making new memories and delight in new friendships and relationships. This is a fabulous introduction to the Pippa's Island series and Book 2 promises more fun and adventures for the Sassy Sisters, Pippa, Meg, Charlie and Cici.
Rhyllis Bignell