Books & Literature

Book Review: The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.: Sister Act, by Jen Carney

MIDDLE GRADE: The third hilarious diary of Billie Upton Green by superstar author-illustrator Jen Carney.

A lovely story with a great message: all families are different, but love is the same.

Jen Carney is an English author and illustrator who lives in Lancashire. She has a wife and three children, and writes books that celebrate diverse and contemporary families.

The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.: Sister Act is the third in the series of books about Billie Upton Green, and her friends and family. They are written as a diary, full of illustrations, charts and diagrams. Sometimes these things are just extras but, in this story, they are an integral part.

In Sister Act, Billie is about to get a new sister. She is a foster baby being adopted by Billie’s two mums. Billie is extremely excited to have a new member of her family, but to top off the excitement, the school is going to perform a  play and she desperately wants a part which will demonstrate her acting and singing abilities.

As well as two mums, Billie has Granny P and Great-Nan, who lives at her special home. Billie soon finds out that she has more in common with her beloved Great-Nan than she thought.

The font used makes it look like Billie is actually writing her diary, and a nice touch is when we see her attempts at spelling, with words crossed out and, eventually, alternatives taking their place: “a meloncollie mellancolly sad song.”

Jen Carney normalises things such as same-sex parenting, adoption, disabilities, gender fluidity, and gay teachers and friends. Billie sees the world full of just people. As she tells the social worker, she wants to “teach her new sister never to judge anybody on anything other than how they treat you.” Billie also tells a friend that “all families are different, but love is the same”. Two great lessons for anyone to take on.  There is also an emphasis on friendships and telling the truth.

Teachers may find this novel useful as there are some interesting English and Drama lesson ideas. Alternatively, teachers need to be aware of fun games the class may now play behind their back.

There are children who may not understand some of the very English references like Billie’s favourite biscuits being Jaffa Cakes, Penguins and Bourbons, things that cost 50p, and some of the bird references.

There may also be questions asked as there are references to a baby being born out of the “front bottom” and a small illustration of a baby being born (a blanket is covering the mum). Most children these days are very aware of these things but parents or teachers need to be ready for questions.

Overall, Sister Act is a fun story full of important life lessons with lots of scope for further discussion if necessary.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: February 2022
RRP: $14.99

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