Sherryl Clark (text) and Briony Stewart (illustrator), Mina and the Whole Wide World, University of Queensland Press, July 2021, 120 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780702263231
Just one more lick of sunny yellow paint and Mina will finally have a bedroom all to herself. No more sharing a wardrobe with her brother George or having him break her things (like her purple glitter unicorn). Unable to contain her excitement, Mina wants this bedroom more than anything else in the whole wide world!
But then her dream is shattered, as a boy named Azzami is welcomed into her family, and he moves into the brand new room that was supposed to be Mina’s. She just cannot comprehend the unfairness of the whole situation, that is until, at school she notices ‘Oliver the drongo’ teasing newcomer Azzami for his withdrawn nature. As Mina begins to understand Azzami’s story as a refugee, she learns that a friendship with this quiet boy is far greater than having a room to herself could ever be.
At its heart, this novel is about the importance of compassion and understanding and making one feel as though they belong. The short chapters make for an easy and engaging read while the verse structure allows young readers to reflect on the concepts, and perhaps how they have treated newcomers in the past.
I recommend this wonderful novel to first time chapter book readers!
Reviewed by Olivia Sammut