Seven-year-old Violet’s Theory of Helping Small Things doesn’t work out well for a ladybug, but it does inspire her big sister Nicola’s successful natural science project.
In this third in a series of Australian imports starring this appealing, inventive child, Violet turns her attention to small creatures: a sparrow in the shopping center and an undersized ladybug from the colony living under the fennel in the garden. Though Small Gloria doesn’t survive in the habitat Violet builds, the beetle is appropriately honored in her sister’s model of ladybug habitats, as well as being buried and remembered in a simple ceremony. A new verse for “These are a Few of My Favorite Things” helps to provide closure. The death of animals, whether through accidents or of natural causes, often weighs heavily on children, and this deceptively simple early chapter book takes such concerns seriously without getting stuck there. Each short chapter is a complete event, but readers will be led on by their need to know what happens next. The finished book will include black-and-white illustrations (not seen) and the distinctively designed chapter numbers (they look like they’ve been knit out of yarn) of previous titles. Readers who met Violet earlier will feel right at home.
Still, this sweet family story stands alone and should attract new fans. (Fiction. 5-9)