Pippa's Island: Cub reporters by Belinda Murrell
Random House Australia, 2017. ISBN 9780143783688
Life could hardly be more different for Pippa. From a seemingly happy family living in a Victorian terrace house in London to a caravan in her grandparents' backyard on a tropical island off the Australian coast. Forced to make changes when her husband decided to work in Switzerland without them, Pippa's mother has uprooted the family to a totally new environment where she is now running the increasingly popular Beach Shack Cafe created from an old, abandoned boat shed - a huge contrast to being a stockbroker in London!
Pippa has a new puppy called Summer, is learning to surf, has settled into school and now has a group of friends - Meg, Cici and Charlie - and they call themselves the Sassy Sisters. So when teacher librarian Mrs Neill launches a student newspaper inviting all the students to submit articles for the first edition, they are very excited. But each has different interests and therefore different ideas of the focus of their story so whose idea will be adopted? And what happens when naughty puppies and tropical weather and uncooperative shopkeepers interfere with their plans? Being a junior journalist is not as easy as it sounds.
This is the second in this new series by Belinda Murrell, aimed at the independent reader who is looking for something that will absorb them for a while. Writing modern stories for this tween-age group who are on the cusp of becoming young women with all that that entails is difficult because there is a fine line between what to include so the older girl remains interested and what to leave out so that the younger girl who is reading at this level is not turned away. In this series, Murrell has nailed it with just the right balance. There is action aplenty, a healthy relationship with the boys in the story, Cici's fashion interests to add the touch of glamour and a main character who could be almost any girl who picks up the book. This and its predecessor The Beach Shack Cafe will be in Miss 11's Santa's Sack this year!
When I was this age I read The Pen and Pencil Girls by Clare Mallory, a book which had such an influence on my writing as a child that I tracked a copy down and bought it a few years ago. Move forward a couple of decades and the Junior Journalists club was the most popular and sustainable one that operated in my school library, and now we have Cub Reporters to inspire another generation. Offering kids an authentic outlet for their writing, their illustrating and their photography is a winner for getting those who have a passion for these things involved in school life while perhaps moving them on to a higher level of expertise. Let this book be the one to kickstart a program in your library.