What Zola did on Monday (Melina Marchetta, illus by Deb Hudson, Puffin)
Melina Marchetta is a novelist we normally associate with award-winning young adult fiction, and more recently her adult novels Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil and The Place on Dalhousie. Now, for the first time, she turns her prodigious talents to junior fiction. Her new series will have seven books, each titled for a different day of the week (although this first book is set over a longer time period), featuring a young girl and her neighbourhood. In What Zola Did on Monday, the first short chapter book, Marchetta introduces the delightfully cheeky Zola. There are three generations of women living in Zola’s house, while Zola’s younger cousin, Alessandro, lives in the house behind them. Everyone in the street likes to admire the amazing flowers in Zola’s garden, which is tended by her Nonna. There are two dogs, Monty and Gigi, one of whom is very naughty indeed, and school is just across the road in what used to be a community garden that has fallen into disrepair. Marchetta weaves a simple but engaging story that encompasses multigenerational families and a close-knit community working together. The black and white drawings by debut illustrator Deb Hudson are absolutely gorgeous and add a great deal of charm to an already delightful story. What Zola Did on Monday is a great book for a child who is in the early stages of their reading journey. Early readers aged 5–7 are very fortunate to now have a Melina Marchetta story just for them.
Angela Crocombe is the manager of Readings Kids