Zoe Norton Lodge (text) and Georgia Norton Lodge (illustrator), Elizabella Meets her Match, Walker Books Australia, October 2018, 208 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN
Elizabella meets her Match follows the time honoured tradition in children’s books of a heroine who is a very naughty little girl (I think we can hold Enid Blyton responsible for this!)
However, Elizabella is also loyal, kind and never malicious. She has a close group of friends who she relies on to support her and her sometimes crazy pranks. When a new girl, Minnie, joins her class, she suddenly finds herself being out-pranked, and feelings of jealousy start to impact on her behaviour. As she realises this, Elizabella has to make a decision: is Minnie a rival, or a potential comrade?
Meanwhile, in a plot line stolen from Cyrano de Bergerac, Elizabella’s haiku poems help ignite a romance between the school principal, Mr Gobblefrump and Miss Duck, the tuck shop lady (the author has had a lot of fun with names). Speaking of romance, she also has to deal with unfamiliar feelings regarding her friend, Huck, who she realises she really ‘like likes’.
Elizabella’s world is a safe and comfortable one. She has a Dad who is attentive and loving and a brother who appears to be in his own world, but is actually more switched on than we at first realize. We discover quite early on that Elizabella’s mother has died, but this is handled with sensitivity and maturity. Her father often tells funny stories about her mum, and, although she is obviously missed enormously, there is no trauma attached to this loss. However, I don’t like the use of the term ‘passed away’, which sounds clumsy and is an unnecessary and old-fashioned euphemism (but this is a tiny quibble).
There is also a bit of fun with Larry, a pet frill-neck lizard, who raises some existential questions (the readers won’t realise this, but teachers and parents will). Larry is quite wise and offers some rather sage words of wisdom.
Tween girls will find it easy to relate to Elizabella, who is a loveable and funny heroine. This is the first book in the series by the sisters Zoe & Georgia Norton Lodge and I feel confident that readers will be looking forward to the next in the series: Elizabella and The Great Tuck Shop Takeover.
Recommended for readers aged 6 and over.
Reviewed by Gaby Meares