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All the Little Tricky Things (Karys McEwen, Text) 

This debut middle-grade novel is a gentle and empathetic story about navigating the period between primary and high school, as well as the complex ways in which adolescent female friendships change and grow. Eleven-year-old Bertie is a shy daydreamer who is nervous about the future and uncertain of her place in the world. Bertie’s parents have saved up so she can attend ‘a posh private school in the city’ but all Bertie’s friends will be at the local high school in Merri, the regional town where she lives. Bertie frets about leaving her comfort zone and being unprepared for what’s to come. All the Little Tricky Things centres around the epic Summer List that Bertie’s outgoing best friend Claire makes to boost Bertie’s confidence before high school starts. Yet Claire seems to be growing up a whole lot faster than Bertie, and Bertie feels pressured to do the same. First kisses, leg-shaving and breaking the law are just some of the daunting tasks Claire has set. Will the list ultimately cause a rift between the friends, or will it allow Bertie to forge her own path? Karys McEwen’s prose is gorgeous and she deftly traverses the highs and lows of tweenhood with a rich cast of characters. Ideal for 8–12-year-olds, All the Little Tricky Things will appeal to fans of Maddie in the Middle and The Edge of Thirteen.

Charlotte Callander is a freelance writer and a bookseller at Antipodes Bookshop and Gallery.


Category: Junior Reviews