'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 17 June 2010

Review: Little Else: Trick Rider

Title: Little Else Trick Rider

Author: Julie Hunt

Illustrator: Beth Norling

Publisher: Allen & Unwin, A$13.99RRP

Format: Softcover

ISBN: 9781741758771

For ages: 5-10

Type: Junior Fiction

About: Little Else lives with her skinny grandmother in a skinny little hut with dinner so skant, they only eat once a week and need to pass over ‘the same ground twice to throw a shadow’.

Yep, things are certainly dire, so when a strongman turns up at the door looking for ‘spare’ children to join Ma Calico’s Bush Circus, Little Else doesn’t hesitate. Off she trots on a pony with a young lad named Joe – to a new life and promise of hot meals and gold.

Of course, things don’t go according to plan, as is the way when strange men go hunting children to run away and join the circus, and poor Little Else is soon thrown in the deep end, expected to leap and flip and tumble for nothing more than a few harsh words from the intimidating (and enormous!) Ma Calico. Not a gold ingot in sight.

As she learns to become a fine horse riding performer, Little Else – or La Petite Elsié, as she becomes known – and her circus buddies soon discover the stockpile of gold Ma Calico is hiding from her employees. Together, the underpaid and overworked circus talent plot a way to overthrow the mean Ma Calico, who is so nastypants, she throws cannonballs at heads.

Can Little Else and her friends find a way to secure the gold they’re due?

This adorable story is riddled with clever text and deliciously dry humour that won’t be lost on adults keen to take a peek – and kids will thoroughly enjoy the warm, childlike banter of both dialogue and storyline.

With clever subplots along the way, we are treated to a not-quite-resolved storyline that stretches the story over three separate books, and the ending of Book One certainly leaves a taste in the mouth for more.

Reminiscent of classic tales of yesterday, Trick Rider is funny and a whole lot of fun, with a cast of quirky characters and a very likeable heroine. Coupled with gorgeous and whimsically coloured illustrations by Beth Norling, this series of books will delight young readers who love a little bit of fancy and magic in their tales.

I may not be seven years old, but I’m already looking forward to finding out what happens to Little Else in Book Two. I love a book with an unexpected ending and a respectful lack of predictability – and if I love this, you can rest assured seven-year-olds will, too.

Author website

This book can be bought online