Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cicada Summer by Kate Constable

We all judge books by their covers and this is exactly why I picked up Cicada Summer. The cover is lovely, the story quite magical and the title a perfect one to read during an Australian Summer.

El for Leather, El Dorado, Ella Fitzgerald, Elementary, Elbow Grease, Elephant, Electric Chair, El’s Bells, Elf Ears, Electron Microscope. “ ‘Um Dad’, said Eloise shyly. ‘Would it be okay it you just called me my name?’ … ‘ Yeah sure,’ he said after a minute. 'I guess so. I thought you liked all my funny little nicknames.’”

Eloise is totally lost following the death of her mother. Her father is caught up in schemes to make money as a way to avoid really helping Eloise who has become mute in her grief. In the latest scheme Stephen, her father, has decided to bulldoze an old house that previously belonged to his mother Mo and build a modern convention centre.

Eloise stays with Mo, who has her own suffering to overcome, while her Dad heads back to the city to organize the finances. Luckily for Eloise and Mo the Durrani family live next door. They are newly arrived immigrants from Afghanistan and I found myself wishing to know more of their story they are such special people who generously help Mo and Eloise and even her dad.

Left to her own devices Eloise heads back to the old house. In this timeslip fantasy everything goes still and cool and Eloise finds the buildings and garden transformed with a green lawn, flower beds, a neat white fence and fresh paint work. The noisy cicadas and strong heat of summer signal her return to real time. Eloise may not be able to talk but she really needs a friend and in this other time she finds one but who is Anna?

This is a gentle story of healing and true friendship. It is so easy to read it is like a long cool drink on a hot summer day. I would recommend this book to girls in Middle Primary grades. I think some children in my school might have contributed to this set of reviews.

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