Review Blog

Jan 19 2016

Nellie Belle by Mem Fox

cover image

Ill. by Mike Austin. Scholastic, 2016. ISBN 9781760274108
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Rhyming song, Animals, Safety. With repetition on each quartet of pages, kids will have great fun answering the questions Nellie Belle is asked. At first she is asked if it is fun in the yard. She is illustrated looming large on the first page, her bear in her teeth, amongst the flowers and dirt which she digs. But there is a hole in the fence and she is shown looking through it.
The next pages take us out into the street, where a similar questions is asked. Is it fun in the street? as she meets and greets many she sees. But she spies a sign pointing her to the beach, so the readers will know that the next pages will involve the beach and sure enough, she is asked if it is fun at the beach.
Prediction and repetition are the order of the day as the dog, Nellie Belle fills her time in the yard, the street, the beach and in the sea. Readers will love following the animal through her adventures, and take joy in being able to predict what might happen next. And the next four pages are a surprise as the pages are becoming a little darker and she finds herself in the park with eyes staring at her. The readers will love being just a little concerned for Nellie Belle but really enjoy the warm snuggly feeling at the end of the book.
I loved reading this out loud, following the repetition and rhyme of the lines, watching the detail Austin gives to each page, adding to the storyline. The humourous touches, leaving teddy by the hole dug in the garden, the hole in the fence, the sign to the sea, the meeting with the seal, the eyes in the dark and then retracing her steps back to her house and bed, will not be lost on the audience as they read. They will take delight in recognising the sorts of things met in the garden, street, beach, sea and park, and adults will be able to lead later discussions into thoughts about being safe.
Fran Knight

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