Violet Mackerel is a collector of small things. She has a theory that when you have a very important and brilliant idea, you’ll probably find something small and special on the ground at that very moment. So when she finds a small red button at the Saturday market while Mum is busy with her knitting stall, Violet has a very important idea. She’d like to own the small china bird she has seen on a stall near her mum’s. Except there’s a problem. It costs ten dollars. And the man who owns the china bird stall never says hello to Violet, even though he smiles at her. Which is a bit of a puzzle. Fortunately Violet is good at thinking outside the square when it comes to problem solving, because she needs to come up with a brilliant plot if she’s going to buy that china bird. But when her brilliant plot involves turning the back garden into an archaeological dig, Violet is not prepared for the family’s reaction.
The books in this series are absolutely delightful. Anna Branford has created an endearing character, in Violet, whose out-of-the-box thinking is as refreshing as it is amusing. Violet’s mix of creativity and pragmatism make for the types of plots young readers will immediately relate to. And they will love the practical activities and suggestions at the back of the book.
Sarah Davis’s winsome illustrations are an exquisite match for the text. This heart-warming series is sure to be a hit. Highly recommended.
Walker Books 2010
(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 26, Issue 2, May 2011)