Kelsey and the Quest of the Porcelain Doll by Rosanne Hawke

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University of Queensland Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780702253317.
Highly recommended for ages 7+. Kelsey is made to travel to Pakistan with her aid worker parents after a flood. She is resentful and wishes she could have remained at home with Nanna Rose, able to celebrate her ninth birthday at her friend Chantelle's pool. Instead, she finds herself in unfamiliar surroundings with people she doesn't know and with whom she certainly doesn't want to spend time! Gradually she is encouraged to make friends with a girl of her own age and visit her home. As often as she can, Kelsey skypes Nanna Rose who obliges by telling her stories about a porcelain doll and its adventures. Over time, Kelsey learns to appreciate her new friend Shakila and her family and their way of life and enjoys her visits to the local school. When an accident occurs, Kelsey is able to show her true nature. Will everything turn out for the best or not and will Amy Jo, the porcelain doll, ever find her 'happy ever after'?
Having begun its life as a story told by the author to her daughter while they were living in Pakistan, the story highlights Hawke's affinity with both the people and place of her tale. With each chapter's focus alternating between the story of Kelsey and her experiences and the tale of Amy Jo, the porcelain doll, this story is accessible to younger readers but would also make a great read aloud. The print is double spaced, there are illustrations directly related to each chapter on its first page and blank pages between each chapter, hence, the text is probably only around one hundred pages in length. This all serves to make Kelsey a title which would be perfect to use with a class. One could focus on children from other countries, differences between families, natural disasters, aid work and practical responses students could make in the way of support. As stated on the blurb on the back cover, it is a 'captivating story of adversity, adventure and love.' Each of these aspects is dealt with and could be teased out, even with young children. I can imagine this book being paired with any of the Sarindi titles to compare and contrast the information found in each.
Jo Schenkel