Edwina Wyatt (text), and Katherine Quinn (illustrator), The Secrets of Magnolia Moon, Walker Books Australia, November 2019, 160 pp., RRP $19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760651541
Magnolia Moon is very good with secrets. She knows how to keep them, and solve them, and people are always asking “Can I tell you a secret?”. She is friends with the moon, and with Imogen May, and Casper, and has a new baby brother on the way.
Magnolia has conversations with the spiral stairs in her house (sometimes they help her, and sometimes they give her away when she’s trying to sneak downstairs) and she takes a great delight in being the only one who can understand her baby brother’s secret language, although she doesn’t tell her parents that he’s actually saying “dog” instead of “dada” because she doesn’t want to hurt her dad’s feelings. I adored the recurring conversations with her friend Imogen May about which fruit they would choose to be and why, and the very different way Magnolia connects with Casper. Secrets abound in Magnolia’s world, but they are sweet, and full of caring for the people in her life.
Each chapter is a gentle little story in itself, full of Magnolia’s quirky way of seeing the world. Magnolia makes a new friend at school, visits Imogen May at her new home, adjusts to a new baby in the house and takes an interest in a boy (or is he an angel?) she sees almost flying one day.
The closest comparison I could think of when I read The Secrets of Magnolia Moon was the Milly-Molly-Mandy stories, but Magnolia’s stories have more of a hint magical realism about them, and Magnolia herself is a much more imaginative young lady. Magnolia’s chapters, however, could be read out loud to a young audience in much the same way as Milly-Molly-Mandy was read to me when I was about seven. Young readers of seven to nine who see the world through an imaginative lens will enjoy The Secrets of Magnolia Moon.
Reviewed by Emily Clarke