As soon as I heard the title of this debut junior fiction novel, from award-winning picture book author Edwina Wyatt, I was hooked. Then came the exquisite cover, from New Zealand illustrator Katherine Quinn. And, from the very first page, I was enchanted.
Magnolia Moon is a quirky nine-year-old girl, with a love of Greek mythology, her best friend, Imogen Mae, and the moon.
She is the kind of girl who would be a grape, if she were a fruit — because you would never be lonely, sitting there in a bunch — and has a wonderful way of measuring time — There’s a whole year to go, which is a lifetime if you are a giant jellyfish.
But, best of all, she is excellent at keeping secrets. In fact, each chapter reveals a new secret that Magnolia is keeping and, together, they form a beautiful vignette; a snapshot of a year in the life of Magnolia Moon.
From her best friend moving away, to Daddy Moon not wanting to celebrate his birthday, and the birth of her baby brother, Finnegan, Magnolia deals with each secret in her sweet, funny and inventive way.
Edwina Wyatt’s prose is lyrical and heartfelt, with a glorious use of imagery. And Katherine Quinn has captured the fanciful nature of Magnolia Moon with warmth and joy.
This is not a fast-paced read, brimming with dramatic tension. Calling to mind the writing of Astrid Lindgren and Kate DiCamillo, The Secrets of Magnolia Moon is a whimsical and gentle portrayal of friendship and problem solving, with each page to be savoured. And I think young readers could do with more of that.
Title: The Secrets of Magnolia Moon
Author: Edwina Wyatt
Illustrator: Katherine Quinn
Publisher: Walker Books, $19.99
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Hard Cover
For ages: 6+
Type: Junior Fiction
Review by Penny Harrison of Kids’ Book Review