Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Holiday of a Lifetime: Disaster Diary - Megan De Kantzow

Anna is a worry wart. Her world is so full of worry that even ‘the holiday of a lifetime' – that her parents decide will be a far better use of the funds set aside for a new kitchen and bedroom for Anna – is packed with anxious moments. Well, from Anna's perspective it is. What can you expect if your parents book a flight to Europe that leaves on Halloween? Gran comes to the rescue, though. When Anna looks in the package Gran gave the family to open on the plane, she finds the silver seahorse necklace Gran had as a girl, and which Dad says is a lucky charm. It doesn't save Anna from having arguments with Francine, her ballet-maniac older sister, or keeping the annoying Mr Cadwalder away (hgna, hgna, hgna), and it doesn't prevent Anna's suitcase from becoming lost during the flight or five-year-old brother, Timmy, falling out of a row boat in the Grand Canal at Versailles or getting lost at The Louvre. But it does keep Anna's fears at bay. Mainly. Until disaster strikes after the charm is lost and Anna must come to terms with her dependence on luck; she must pull out all her resources – her inner strength and ingenuity – as well as the emergency supplies in her backpack to perform a heroic task.

Holiday of a Lifetime: Disaster Diary is well-crafted and hard to put down. Aimed at primary school-aged girls and written in diary form, it will appeal because of the strong first-person voice, witty humour and themes of adventure, dealing with anxiety and negotiating family relationships. Based on author Megan de Kantzow's own experience of holidays in Europe and Finland, the text is interesting and educational, positioning the reader to explore outside the confines of their immediate locale.
A book that tackles the challenges of pushing through fear and superstition in a light-hearted, entertaining and engaging read.

Omnibus Books 2013
(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 28, Issue 3, July 2013)

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