Magnolia is nine and a half and her life is changing. Her best friend has moved away. Mum is having a baby. Magnolia has moved up to grade four with a new teacher and new friends. Magnolia is a very special girl. She is positive, forthright and honest. She is also a problem solver, which I love. She thinks up practical solutions for any problems that come her way.
Here is an example. She visits her friend Imogen May for a sleepover. Imogen explains there is a ghost in the new house. Magnolia wakes up in the middle of the night and she hears the ghost. She leaves Imogen May sleeping and heads downstairs. The ghost is in fact Ernest, Imogen May’s brother. He is frightened of the noises made by the toilet when it is flushed. Magnolia takes charge. She leads Ernest up to confront the toilet. “I am going to flush you now, and you are going to get on with it and not make a fuss … And you are to stay there, and you are not, I repeat not, to follow us down the hall.”
I love the way Magnolia makes sense of time. “Time was tricky like that. It could be long and short all at once. And it was always going backwards and forwards getting stuck between yesterday and tomorrow.”
“There’s a whole year to go, which is a lifetime if you are a giant jellyfish.”
“Barrow is a whole hour away, which is a lifetime if you are a cake in the oven.”
“Six months .. but that is a lifetime if you are a bed bug.”
“It was only three weeks since the girls had seen each other … that was a lifetime if you were a bar of soap.”
“There were five more hours until the end of school which was a lifetime if you were a sandcastle.”
If you were using this book with a class you could make a lifetime book with a different example on each page.
I also love the tiny observations of life:
“Magnolia turned her pillow to the cool side.”
“There were piles of washing all over the floor, spilling out of the basket in a tsunami of towels and sheets and tiny singlets.”
Magnolia’s new friend Casper Sloan makes his own lunch each day. He uses an alphabet system. On the w day Magnolia guesses it will be “wontons with wasabi, then waffles with white chocolate and watermelon.” No he is having “watercress on white bread, walnut cake and wheatgrass juice.”
And I love the delightful names:
I think you can tell I really loved this little gem of a story. This is a quiet book which gently observes daily life for Magnolia allowing us to know her secrets.
I first read The Secrets of Magnolia Moon in June this year. Walker Book Australia kindly gave each of the people attending an advance copy. I am never sure how long I need to wait to talk about a new book so I put it to one side. The Secrets of Magnolia Moon was published in November and it is receiving so many positive comments. Megan Daley read this book to her little girl and they both loved it.
Katherine Quinn is an illustrator from New Zealand.
I will make the prediction that The Secrets of Magnolia Moon will be a notable title for our CBCA awards in 2020 and from there a short listed title in the Younger Reader category.
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. Kids Book Review