Book Review: The Useful Book My review of this new activity, recipe and art/craft book celebrating…
Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot – Book Review
Written by Anna Bradford, Illustrated by Sarah Davis and published by Walker Books. This is the fourth in this Australian series for chapter book readers whose reading confidence is increasing. For readers aged six to ten.
Also available at Book Depository: Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot
Also in this series:
Violet Mackerel’s Remarkable Recovery (Book Depository)
Violet Mackerel’s Pocket Protest (Book Depository)
Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend (Book Depository)
Violet Mackerel’s Personal Space (Book Depository)
This book is divided into chapters of around 100 each, with plenty of black and white illustrations. There are bolded and capitalized phrases for emphasis and handwritten notes and signs. Most pages are about half-filled with text and half with illustrations. This makes the whole story very approachable to newly confident readers.
Violet Mackerel is the youngest of three children living with a single mother. Their lives have changed since their father left and they’ve abandoned the stereotype of office job, day care and after-work gym. Instead, Violet’s mother knits clothes and other items and every Saturday she and the children set up a stall at the market and sell the things she has created. Violet’s brother and sister each have their own ways of making money at the market as well. Violet occupies herself in other ways. In particular, she’s determined to come up with a solution to a tricky problem: she really wants a certain blue china bird on sale at a neighbouring stall. But she doesn’t have any money.
Violet goes about solving her problem in a very satisfying way, which also serves as a great education for kids. We discover the benefits of planning, brainstorming, separating good, bad and unrealistic ideas and keeping an open mind. This example of proactive and creative behaviour when presented with a problem is absolute gold for children in our modern world, and this book delivers it with style.
The language is very clear, including minimal use of contractions, and the location is unspecific: this family could be in many countries around the world, which makes it a great gift idea for friends and family in other countries.
I loved the introduction of the science of archaeology and the early beginnings of entrepreneurship are great concepts and from what I can see of the series as a whole, such ideas are part and parcel of the Violet Mackerel world. A thoroughly entertaining read underpinned by great educational opportunities – who can ask for more?
The way that Violet thinks and feels is very realistic and it’s not overly girly, so boys will find much to appreciate with this story as well.
Perhaps the romance which is kindled between Violet’s mother and the stall holder, as a result of Violet’s actions, is a little contrived, but on the other hand this is the fourth book in a series. The back story has had plenty of time to build, if you take it as a series. Other than that, there is little to criticize here.
A truly excellent book.
Our Rating (channelling our love of ice cream, our rating system works the way we like our ice cream: the more scoops the better. Besides, good books should be devoured!
Best = four scoops):
Four scoops! Can’t talk, busy eating!
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