Chris Higgins, with artwork by Lee Wildish
(Hodder Children’s Books)
Mattie is nine years old and is a little bit of a worrier. Life can be chaotic in the Butterfields’ household so it is little wonder that Mattie feels anguish: her best friend is a bit bossy, her little sister V is always cross, her grandmother sometimes acts as if she does not like her grandchildren much, and why is her mum visiting the doctor and seems concerned about money? So much to worry about! When Uncle Vesuvius agrees to help them set up a vegetable path in the garden, will this help elevate some of Mattie’s stress?
My Funny Family is the first volume of brand new series The Butterfields which follows the slightly wacky Butterfield family. There is something really heartwarming about this tale of a very loving and supportive family; it is particularly touching because it does not shy away from the fact that though the family is loving, it is not perfect. Throughout the story there are subtle hints at difficulties within the home: the resentment towards the mother by the grandmother and the resulting friction between them, the financial issues that having a large family brings, V’s reluctance and issues with reading. The book is written in a sensitive way, and therefore it is accessible to the intended audience, as well as non-threatening for them. My Funny Family is also funny and very witty at times. It is reminiscent of the wonderful Casson family series by Hilary McKay, but for a much younger audience.
The artwork by Lee Wildish is delightful and really helps set the quirky tone of this great little book, which can be enjoyed both by boys and girls. I just hope boys won’t be put off by the prominence of pink on the front cover.
My Funny Family is a charming and gentle read for newly independent readers, and will particularly suit little readers with sensitive souls.
Source: review copy from publisher