Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat by Anna Branford

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Walker Books, 2011. ISBN: 9781921529191.
Recommended for ages 6 and above. At the end of a shopping trip, Violet becomes bored as her mother and a neighbour stop to chat over cups of tea! When she spies a sparrow in the shopping centre, Violet comes up with the 'Theory of Helping Small Things'. On the way home, her mother introduces her to the term Natural Habitat. This leads to Violet making some suggestions to her big sister, Nicola, about possible topics for her natural science project. Despite Nicola's disinterest, Violet finds a ladybird and makes a new habitat for it in a glass jar. While their mother is at the market the next day, things go wrong with the ladybird, and the two girls work together to create a very successful science project for Nicola. During the next trip to the shopping centre, Violet happily acts on her most recent theory to assist the swallow she had previously met.
Branford has created a delightful, winning character in Violet Mackerel. She is a kind, considerate child, always keen to do her best to help others with her lateral thinking and different ideas. For emergent readers or for teachers of junior primary classes to read aloud, this series provides some simple plots which are easy for young children to relate to and act as introductions to various topics. This would be perfect to read as part of a unit on life cycles and habitats and the activities at the back of each book are easy and appealing for young readers.
Jo Schenkel