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From the Violet Mackerel series, volume 1

by Anna Branford illustrated by Elanna Allen

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4424-3585-8
Publisher: Atheneum

A collection of small things and a generous gesture win Violet Mackerel the Blue China Bird she’s admired for weeks at the Saturday-morning market.

While her mother and sister sell their crafts and her brother plays the violin, Violet has time to visit the other vendors—especially the seller of china birds—and to plot, imagining ways to earn the $10 she needs to buy her favorite. Thinking “outside the box” as her mother advises, she experiences a series of failures. But in the box of her mother’s knitting disasters she finds something she can transform into a desirable, sellable object. The gentle, present-tense narration reflects the thinking of an imaginative and quite determined 7-year-old, following the model of elders who envision goals and work toward them. She’s not always realistic about her own abilities. Her theory of the importance of small things mirrors the series of small moments that make the story. First published in Australia, where it was a Children’s Book of the Year Honour Book and followed by three sequels, this title has been slightly edited and re-illustrated for its U.S. edition. Allen’s grayscale drawings enliven almost every page. (Final art not seen.)

Violet and her family are original and appealing, a lovely addition to any chapter-book collection of characters. (Fiction. 5-9)