CONDON, Bill (text) Beth Norling (illus.) The Simple Things Allen & Unwin, 2014 160pp $12.99 pbk ISBN 9781743317242 SCIS 1648018
This is a delightful book about an initially reluctant young boy who has to spend his holidays with his parents and his really, really old, grumpy and scary great aunt for three whole weeks. Steve and Aunty Lola take a while to bond, partly because of Steve’s honest (and very funny) replies to her questions and his endless questions of her. Mind you, Aunty Lola can also be difficult. When Steve asks about her hobbies, she says: ‘Being alone’; however that was after Steve guesses her age to be almost 20 years older than it is.
Themes covered in the story include: the importance of family, friendship, outdoor activities, affection, celebrations, the concept of what makes a great gift, remembering and honouring the past, and dealing with ageing and mortality. The issue of mortality is only referred to occasionally; this is really a happy book. Suitable for children aged 7-10.
reviewed by Katy Gerner