Frizzle and Me (Ellie Royce, illus by Andrew McLean, Ford St)
Frizzle and Me jumps on board a current—and vital—trend for books celebrating diversity, and makes a respectable contribution to the cohort. The premise is that the definition of ‘family’ is simple: those around you, who you love and are close to. Blood relations are no more ‘true’ or valuable than non-genetic connections; rather, the two enrich each other equally and what matters is that your family makes you feel safe and happy. The protagonist (who is not gendered and, like all the other characters, is of indeterminate ethnic origin) grows up with an ever-expanding family, as it accommodates partners, friends and a new baby. At every change, the adults reassure the child that all their favourite traditions—hugs, songs, books—will still remain, and it is a very happy house. The clear message is that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ when it comes to family. The illustrations are reminiscent of Janet Ahlberg crossed with Helen Oxenbury: comforting and familiar landscapes where adults and children and pets all seem relaxed and connected. The repeated refrains from the central character—as each person joins the family, the child is confident that the important things will not change—will no doubt be embraced by young children, even if adults might like a little more contrast between them.
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is a freelance editor, writer and reviewer, and has worked as a bookseller at The Hobart Bookshop for over 10 years.