Leaf letters by Lorena Carrington

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This first junior novel by author/illustrator Lorena Carrington is a gentle story about independent Hazel and her fascination with nature. She is a keen photographer and has moved on from collecting natural items to take home, to taking photographs which are thoughtfully spread throughout the entire book.

While out in the bushland near her home Hazel meets Cole, a boy who collects things just as she does, but he stores them in his clothing with multiple pockets. He has a treasure trove of useful items to share with Hazel including the amazing ability to find items to replace the words he does not speak.

While they are closely observing an area of the bush, Hazel and Cole discover a hidden box. Inside the box are some small old fashioned toys plus a book with handwritten clues. The clues are for the finders of the box to try to identify the owner. The two children work closely together to try to decode and solve each of the puzzles and in the end there is a surprise for Hazel.

This delightful story is about friendship, the joy of solving challenging problems, and the beauty of natural world.  The black and white photographs add another dimension to the story and the answers to the puzzles are a handy inclusion. There is also an opportunity for the reader to add their own treasures to the book.

Themes: Friendship, Nature, Photography, Problem-solving, Treasure, Collections.

Kathryn Beilby