Laura Sieveking (text) and Alyssa Bermudez (illustrator), Amelia Chamelia and the Birthday Party (Amelia Chamelia #1), Penguin Random House Australia, January 2019, 96 pp., (pbk), RRP $9.99 ISBN 9780143791669
Amelia is preparing for her eighth birthday party, buying invitations and making plans, but her excitement is dashed when her mother tells her she has to invite her trouble-maker twin cousins. Her excitement returns when her father tells her turning eight is special: that it is a magical age. She isn’t sure what he means, but an incident at school leads her to discover that when her emotions overwhelm her she can become chameleon-like, able to blend into her surroundings.
Though she tries and tries, she isn’t able to do this trick again and the party day arrives without any more unusual happenings. Although Amelia’s cousins are disruptive the party seems to be going well until Amelia discovers the party lolly bags are missing. She gets so upset her chameleon powers activate and she comes across her cousins with the stolen lolly bags, about to eat them. She’s able to save the lolly bags and save the day.
This is the first book in an ongoing series. It’s a short chapter book with easy vocabulary and delightful pictures throughout. The only male characters in the book apart from Amelia’s father are the trouble-making twins, whose disruptive behaviour nearly ruins the party. Amelia is active at problem solving and the girls who come to the party dress up in a range of costumes, including not just a fairy and a ballerina but also a soccer player and a ninja, so the depiction of gender roles is not all stereotyped. The book is perfectly aimed at the interests of an eight-year-old reader, and Amelia is a likeable character so no doubt readers who enjoy this book will be keen to see how she deals with her new magical powers in further books.
Reviewed by Rachel Le Rossignol