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

Sunday 1 July 2018

Review: Layla Queen Of Hearts

I am entirely sure that Glenda Millard has weighed and measured hearts. She knows exactly the weight of a heart as if she has held it in the palm of her hand and listened to it pour out its secrets. Every time I read one of her stories I am reminded of moments forgotten in my haste to grow up and Layla Queen Of Hearts does this more than you will ever know. There are moments, like photographs, that until rediscovered, have formed a part of you that nestles quietly in a photo album waiting to be rediscovered. 

We all have that one special friend who becomes family. The one who blends in, who you don't have to explain things to. Where there is an unspoken understanding - a whisper between hearts - a knowing.

That is who Layla, The Queen of Hearts is to the Silk Family. But when she has a worry of her own too big for her bravery to mask the Silk family all step in to help. Especially the Silk's Grandmother Nell who knows when a young girl has something her heart longs for.

In this, the second in the 'Kingdom of Silk' series, we glean an insight into Layla's family and her relationship with her philosophising Dad, her brave-non-stop Mum, her painful older brother, and her Nan. The contrast Glenda Millard creates between the Elliots and the Silks is so cleverly exposed it's easy to miss the similarities that are gently threaded between the families.

Layla's school is hosting a Senior Citizen's Day but Layla doesn't have anyone to take. Deep in her heart she longs to take her Nan but that is not possible. The Silks offer to help her find a suitable candidate, a special senior someone. Someone Layla doesn't have to share, even though Griffin has offered to share Nell. A list is compiled and the search begins however, the older we get the more we realise that nothing is ever that simple, or that straight forward to fix, and sometimes the 'last resort' becomes the only option. Nell introduces Layla and Griffin to Miss Amelie. A neat elderly lady who can remember moments that form a lifetime yet struggles to recall the faces of people she's just met. Layla begins to realise that she will need a miracle if Miss Amelie is ever going to attend the schools Senior Citizen's Day.

Layla's relationship with Miss Amelie reminds me so much of Olive, an elderly lady I met on the bus home after school. Her guide dog (and the initiator of our friendship) was Florin and she wore a florin coin on her collar. As soon as Olive learnt my name was Penny we became friends. I would often wander up the steep hill to her house on the weekend and read to her. The relationship I had with her was so different from any I had known. She treated me with kindness, friendship and patience. It is so hard to explain how this varied from the kindness and patience of family but it did. So with tears in my eyes and memories cascading down my cheeks I urge you to read this beautiful story so you may understand a little of how this book makes me feel.

Title: Layla Queen Of Hearts
Author: Glenda Millard
Illustrator: Stephen Michael King
Publisher: ABC Books, $14.95
Publication Date: 1 May 2006
Format: Hardback
ISBN:  9780733318429
For ages: 8 - 12
Type: Junior Fiction