Isla Fisher (text), Eglantine Ceulemans (illus.), Marge and the Great Train Rescue (Marge #3), Allen & Unwin, August 2017, 192pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781848125940
Margery Beauregard Victoria Pontefois is a duchess and also babysitter to Jemima and her little brother Jakey. But Marge isn’t your average babysitter, she loves animals, has a quirky way of solving problems and has rainbow hair—which she never shows to adults. Marge and the Great Train Rescue is the third book in the Marge in Charge series by actor and comedian, Isla Fisher, and in this instalment Marge and the kids deal with a lost tooth, a train track-blocking cow and a trip to the zoo.
Isla Fisher’s writing is engaging and funny and Jemima’s voice is spot on—endearing, enthusiastic and filled with childish wisdom. It’s also clear that a lot of thought has been put into the language, resulting in a great balance between words that are challenging enough to provide depth but also simple enough to be clear. The stories have a real rhythm to them in that they seem familiar but also contain enough wacky, unique elements to make them fresh. Kids will love them because they are stories about situations they can relate to—losing a tooth, riding a train and going to the zoo. The characters are also wonderfully drawn. The warm relationship between Jemima and her little brother and Marge is uniquely quirky without being too over the top. She’s a modern day Mary Poppins, without the magic.
The black and white illustrations by Eglantine Ceulemans are fun and lively and help bring the book to life. The illustrations are spaced throughout quite generously and include many half page and a few full-page drawings. Pictures are so important to kids, especially for this age because they make the book seem less daunting and help with comprehension, so having this many is a definite plus.
With its three short stories, pictures and relatable themes, this book is perfect as an enjoyable classroom read for grades one and two, or as a bedtime story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it for kids aged five to eight who maybe aren’t quite ready to read Roald Dahl and David Walliams.
Reviewed by Renee Mihulka