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

Friday 7 October 2022

Review: 29 Things You Didn't Know About Me

This is another wonderful inclusion in Pan Macmillan’s Our Stories series celebrating multiculturalism and bringing us some of the diverse flavours and colours of Mexico, along with loads of other morsels.

Second graders Lucas and Franco are excited to have their first sleepover, and it’s important to have some ground rules and gather information in case things get a bit tricky. For instance, does Lucas like to speak in rhyme too? What about favourite foods, and perhaps most importantly, is he a taco-eater?

With flying cars, rhyming words, hairy spiders, colourful food, swimming, dinosaurs, trumpet players and even some vine-swinging squashed in there, there are certainly a lot of things we uncover through reading this book! The characters are delightful and interesting in both their individual behaviour and their joyful interactions. 

The fact that this is a book celebrating multiculturalism is an added bonus, when it comes to the boys at the centre of the story.

Author Solli Raphael is a poet who won a poetry slam at the tender age of twelve in the Sydney Opera House, and his public persona has been a celebrated work in progress for most of his life. 

His remarkable energy is captured beautifully in this book. 29 Things You Didn’t Know About Me combines some rhyme (but the book is not all in rhyme, and the dipping in and out of this is truly wonderful) with evocative texta-line drawings by Ethiopian-Norwegian artist Olana Janfa, and a cheerful, large font that wanders around the short chapters with a mind of its own.

This book checks in broadly with issues of family, friendship and getting to know and like your inner self, whatever that may look like. As with it’s companion book The Very Best Doughnut, 29 Things You Didn’t Know About Me is a gem, bringing to life as it does some of the beliefs, traditions, culture and colours of a different world, inside the familiarity of characters we can know and relate to. It certainly fits the brief of being a memorable, funny and diverse story on First Nations Lands.

A fun and exciting read that will uncover – and encourage - many ideas and wordplays for young children.

Highly recommended.

Title: 29 Things You Didn’t Know About Me
Author: Solli Raphael
Illustrator: Olana Janfa
Publisher: Pan Macmillan $12.99
Publication Date: July 26,2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760988913
For ages: 5+
Type: Junior Fiction