Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Children’s Book Review, Nullaboo Hullabaloo

Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson,

Nullaboo Hullabaloo is a children’s chapter book written by Fleur Ferris, with occasional illustrations by Briony Stewart, and published by Penguin Random House (2019.) RRP: $Au14.99 PB. I have previously reviewed Ferris’s YA book, Found.

From the publisher:

A spark of magical fairy dust causes a hullabaloo in one Australian country town!

In faraway Nullaboo, Gemma Hart's day isn't going well. Her family might be evicted from their farm, and her science competition topic is march flies. How can she possibly win against perfect Nina, who gets to study butterflies?

But wait, that's not a feather in Gemma’s special bug catcher . . . it's a fairy!

Janomi the fairy isn’t supposed to talk to humans, but desperately needs help. Her grandfather has been captured by the silver spiders. Gemma agrees to help Janomi, and to keep the fairies' existence a secret. But her bug catcher has recorded their conversation - and Nina finds it.

With a media frenzy taking over Nullaboo, a secret government agency barges in to take control, and suddenly the fairy colony is under an even bigger threat. Gemma and her kooky family, school and resourceful neighbours must take matters into their own hands in an against-all-odds bid to save the last fairy colony on Earth.

When I was in Primary School, I had the same kind of belief in fairies as I did in Santa Claus. I was skeptical, but oh, I wanted them to be real! I suspect there are many children who feel the same. They will grab Nullaboo Hullabaloo with glee! It’s a chapter book, but I found it hard to pin down re age recommendation. Middle-grade, yes, but the slightly larger font and occasional illustration will definitely appeal to good readers on the younger end of that spectrum. Regardless, it is an exciting and action-packed read that kids 7+ will enjoy.

Stewart’s black and white sketches definitely add an extra charm to the story. I loved the way Ferris takes us through the scenario of what would happen if someone really DID discover fairies were true. There’s strong dramatic tension, lots of details to bring the world to life, and plenty of characters we can relate to. I know kids will look at the whole fairy trope with new eyes after reading Nullaboo Hullabaloo.

Consider asking kids to create their own fairy worlds after a shared reading of this book. There’s also a very cute activity pack about the book on Penguin’s website.

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