Review Blog

Jul 03 2013

Mr Birdsnest and the house next door by Julia Donaldson

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Scholastic Australia, 2013. Paperback 74 p. ISBN: 9781742837109
(Age: 5-8) Highly recommended for lower school children, both boys and girls. UK Children's Laureate and author of the much-loved The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson has produced a terrific read for the newly independent readers of around 5-8 years. When Elmo and his sister have to move house because Granny is moving in with them, they really want their parents to buy the 'jungle house' with its wild overgrown garden, lion door knocker, monkey patterned wallpaper and resident big black spider. But sadly their parents choose the much less exciting neighbouring place, which Elmo calls the 'flowerpot' house. The children look longingly over the fence at the far more desirable next door residence until the temptation becomes too much and they begin playing in the wild back garden - after all, the house is still empty and nobody cares. When they find a rusty old key in the yard, Elmo and his sister are elated to find it opens the back door of the jungle house and they can roam to their hearts' content, pretending the house is their very own. But oh oh, when Mr Birdsnest decides to buy their house, they are discovered and banished to their own pristine and boring home - until Granny needs rescuing and they discover that perhaps having a neighbour in the jungle house isn't so bad after all.
Younger readers growing in their confidence will love this story with its fast pace and short chapters. Hannah Shaw's amusing illustrations break up the text to present an easy-to-read layout.
Sue Warren

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