Aunt Nancy and the bothersome visitors by Phyllis Root

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Walker Books, 2008.
(Ages 7+) Highly Recommended. Aunt Nancy is an intelligent, quick thinking, resourceful lady who uses all her cunning to defeat a series of unwelcome visitors. Each story sees the arrival of one of these bothersome creatures - Old Man Trouble, Cousin Lazybones, Old Woeful and Mister Death. These stories are near to perfection, narrated with accomplished simplicity in a lyrical language that makes you feel the rhythm right down to the tips of your toes.

Aunt Nancy and the Bothersome Visitors is one of Walker Books 'Racing Reads' for confident readers, but in my opinion the stories are best read aloud, preferably with a Deep South American accent! Knowing my own limitations I passed them on to one of our drama specialists who read a couple of the stories to Year 3. The children were mesmerised. Some of the language is quite difficult with the idiom and expression of a different place and era - probably South America during slavery times, but you soak up the atmosphere and message even if some of the expressions are unfamiliar. The stories certainly have the air of parables and the richness of the language and rhythm is reminiscent of the Afican American Spirituals. You can imagine these stories being accompanied by plenty of hand clapping and foot tapping. As an introduction to the traditional stories of other cultures they are just perfect.

David Parkins' illustrations also deserve a mention. The simple black and white line drawings complement the style of the story telling and the year 3 children were captivated - poring over the illustrations and re-reading the stories for themselves.
Claire Larson