Anna Branford, with artwork by Sam Wilson
(Walker Books)

Violet is a little girl with her own take on life; her theory is that when you are having a brilliant idea, you find something small and special on the floor. If you keep that little something special, it will help you hold on to that brilliant idea. Violet calls it her “theory of finding small things”, and when she spots a beautiful blue china bird on the stall next to her mother’s at the market, she is very much hoping that her theory will  haircut at a hip hair salon and her brother has been busking so he can buy himself a new camera. What can Violet do to get enough money to buy the beautiful bird?

This book is a first of a series which was originally published in Australia in 2010 (with very different covers and inside illustrations, see here). There is something really unusual about Violet and her family, which gives the story real charm and a good dose of whimsy. Her family are a bit eccentric and creative, and although I think some young readers might struggle to relate to Violet’s bohemian way of life, those who do enjoy the story will find themselves inspired by Violet. She is a great little character: bright, determined, quirky, sensitive, thoughtful and creative. She is a doer, as is the rest of her family. The series seems to encourage a return to basics, and enjoying the small things in life, and this is quite refreshing. Violet is not perfect though, and makes a particularly bad error of judgement involving her mother’s garden, and this will be comforting to young readers. No one can relate to people who never do anything wrong after all.

I really like the artwork by Sam Wilson, which really adds to the quirkiness of the story. Walker, again, excel in the overall design of the book, which also helps emphasise the “crafty” theme of the book.

The instructions at the end of the book on how to make a box of small things are a lovely touch and it will delight and inspire young readers. There are lots more exciting activities, such as making a bird feeder, to be found on the website here.

Violet Mackerel is a great new series which is undoubtedly be a success with little girls aged five and above, and particularly those who want a heroine who embraces her girliness without it somehow compromising her intelligence and ability to do interesting things. She is an appealing and convincing character, and her stories will be an exciting addition to any little girl’s book collection.

All illustrations © Sam Wilson

Source: review copy from publisher