The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery by Deborah Abela

xthe-most-marvellous-spelling-bee-mystery.jpg.pagespeed.ic.zY67unNXclTitle: The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery

Author: Deborah Abela

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Penguin-Random House Australia

Published: 30th April 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 240

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Just when India Wimple’s life is returning to normal after competing in the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee, she’s invited to London for an international spelling showdown. But how can she go without her family? The Yungabilla community might have a solution!

In London, India is reunited with her friends Rajish and Summer. They meet new spellers, and are invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen.

But there is skulduggery afoot, with a series of mysterious mishaps. There is even talk of cancelling the competition altogether.

India and her friends are determined to find out who the culprit is and get the spelling bee back on track.

There are words to be spelled, nerves to be overcome, and a champion to be found!

~*~

India Wimple is trying to relax after returning from a trip to Sydney to the National Spelling Bee, an adventure covered in The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee– which after reading this one, I want to read myself, when she receives a letter from London inviting her to the International Spelling Bee – with two other people from Australia. The top three winners of national spelling bees from each participating country will attend. But first, India and her family have to get to London – all of them! Once in London, India and her friends, Rajish and Summer, new spellers to meet – Holly Trifle and Peter Eriksson – and a mystery to solve! Who wants to ruin the spelling bee, and why? After meeting the Queen, and seeing Buckingham Palace, the first round is postponed – and then the finale is threatened. Between studying new words, adventures around London, and Holly’s rather embarrassing parents – will India and her friends solve the mystery so the spelling bee can go on and the winner can be announced?

AWW-2018-badge-roseThis was a delightful surprise from Penguin Random House this month, a very fun read, because it used words and a mystery in the story – two of my favourite things. Each chapter header has a word at the top, with the type of word it is – verb, noun, and so forth, a definition, and its usage – a great way to get kids to enjoy and learn spelling whilst reading a fun and engaging story with great diversity and lots of fun. Deborah Abela has fun with alliteration and strange but interesting names – Harrington Hathaway III, for example. The text is peppered with spelling, definitions and new words for readers to learn – Roald Dahl even gets a mention with some of his splendiferous words from his books such as The BFG.

Each character had their own quirks – which made it fun as well. I loved India and Rajish the most, and their families who were wonderfully supportive of Rajish and India, and each other throughout. Holly was another favourite – a character reminiscent of Matilda Wormwood, whose family doesn’t always appreciate her – but making friends might just change this. Peter was amazing – the type of character that many can relate to, and Summer was amusing and frustrating, though more amusing. It was delightful to see the growth of the characters throughout the book, and the solidifying of their friendship founded on a common interest.

The mystery in this book was a fun mystery, and the kind that kids might find they wish they could encounter for themselves – it had lashes of the Famous Five as well, with five children uncovering a dastardly plot to ruin their beloved spelling bee, meeting the Queen and making life-long friends – a very well written book and one that I devoured in a couple of sittings. In the end, it was friendship that I think is the more powerful message this book sends to it readers.

This is just the sort of book I would have loved as a child – and still love now, because it is about words, and books and spelling. I hope many other readers of all ages enjoy this book and find that they can relate to one or all of the characters.

Secrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer

secrets between friendsTitle: Secrets Between Friends

Author: Fiona Palmer

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 12th September 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 352

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: Life was about living, experiencing and emotions. The good and the bad. You had to laugh to cry. You had to love to hurt. You had to jump to fall or fly.

Best friends AbbieJess and Ricki are setting sail on a cruise ship, rekindling the excitement of a school excursion they took ten years earlier to the historic port town of Albany, the oldest city on the stunning turquoise coastline of Western Australia. But are they truly prepared for what this voyage will reveal?

Ricki, a dedicated nurse, harbours a dream she hasn’t chased. Is she actually happy or stuck in a rut?

Jess, a schoolteacher and single mother to little Ollie, had a tough upbringing but found her way through with the help of her closest male friend, Peter. But Peter has bought an engagement ring and is ready to propose to Ricki . . .

Abbie had it all: a career, a loving boyfriend and a future, but a visit to the doctor bears scary news. Her world is tumbling down and she feels adrift at sea.

SECRETS BETWEEN FRIENDS is a poignant novel of romance, family dynamics and friendship. Through her highly relatable, sympathetic characters, beloved Australian storyteller Fiona Palmer writes about issues, experiences and emotions we have all faced while posing the ultimate question: What is really important in this life?

~*~

Ricki, Abbie and Jess have been friends for as long as they can remember, and have always shared secrets, and confided in each other – until recently. Jess is a single mother and teacher, who has never revealed the identity of her son’s father. Ricki is a nurse, living with Peter, Jess’s best friend since childhood, and harbouring her own secrets about her dreams that she’s ignored for years, and Abbie has just lost her job, her boyfriend and received devastating news that she feels she can’t share with her friends – at least not yet, if ever. And Peter, loyal to them all, unaware of the secrets his friends are keeping, harbours feelings for two of them. Together, they embark on a cruise to Albany to revisit where they once went during school. It is on this journey that the secrets they have been hiding from each other explode into the open, with each reacting differently to the revealing of their secret to their friends and everyone finding a way to cope, culminating in events towards the end that change their lives forever.

aww2017-badgeWhen I first received this book, I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy it – however, I found that in some ways I did – I enjoyed that the focus was on the friendship rather than romance, and the life goals of the characters. I felt this gave it something special and important, that finding the one you love isn’t the be all and end all of your life, but having friends who are your chosen family and whom you care about no matter what is just as, if not more important, and it was to Ricki, Jess, Abbie and Peter. I think reading about friendship and the love of friends who become your family is something we need more of – it gives everyone something to relate to, even if you can’t relate directly to the events and characters, but we can all relate to family and friendship, and the importance of this.

As this was the first Fiona Palmer I have read, having received an uncorrected proof with an adorable little beach chair courtesy of Hachette, I wasn’t sure what to expect – and whilst it is one that I may not read again, fans of Fiona will enjoy her latest offering, exploring friendship and what can make or break friends and relationships. The romantic relationships did happen, but were secondary to the friendship the characters exhibited. I hope that fans of Fiona’s work will enjoy this and maybe she will find some new fans from this book too.

Even though I have no plans to read this book again soon, it is a nice light read, and there will be an audience out there for it, and it is possible I will one day revisit this book, but for now, I’ll work my way through the rest of this year’s review books.