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

Monday 3 April 2023

Review: Starberries and Kee

For years now, fossil fuel has been depleted; islands swallowed by rising waters, and coastal towns washed away. 

The Before is a series of stories told to children in this new era. Community gardens and markets assure survival. Excess food is bottled and stored to share during tough times. Viruses are still circulating. Masks are mandatory.

Due to the frailty of her ageing great-grandmother Libby, Hannah must farewell all that is familiar as the two set out to live with an uncle far away. Their lengthy journey begins with horse and cart and continues by tram.

Hannah is forced to share a room with her bristly cousin Melanie after a lifetime in her own space. That her new home is a house carved into the side of a hill with skylights, increases her sense of being an outsider.

Wren has lived a solitary life on the mountain with Old Man who raised and taught him all he knew. When Old Man died, all Wren had was Kee, a black cockatoo which the boy had saved and nurtured, and instructions to go and find someone he didn’t know in a place he had to find.

The story concentrates on and around these two young people and is presented in alternating voices with perfect transition.   

Both Hannah and Wren are faced with significant change and adjustment, which draws them to one another.

This Solarpunk novel set in natural surroundings, shines as an example for our current times. It concentrates on and accents, the absolute necessity of caring for our planet now, in a self-sustaining and protective way.  It reflects on the importance of a simple life without waste, the absolute benefit of community living and the imperative of renewable energy.

Metaphors and descriptive images fill each page, enhancing the brilliance of Cate Whittle’s flawless, emotive text.

This is a thought-provoking, optimistic novel not to be missed.

Title: Starberries and Kee
Author: Cate Whittle
Publisher: Storytorch Press, $17.95
Publication Date: 1 May 2023
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780645191554
For ages: 8 - 12
Type: Middle Grade Fiction