A gentle story of sand, sea and sun set in a South Australian holiday town.
Children’s literature has moved away from the themes of yesteryear where families were happy, intact, safe and uncomplicated. Nowadays, they deal with family breakups, domestic violence, child safety, sexual identity etc. Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat is a gentlernarrative, more along the lines of a “happy families” book from the past.
This is Monica McInerney’s first foray into the world of children’s books. She is a best-selling South Australian author of 13 books who now lives in Dublin. Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat is about a young girl, Marcie, who lives in the fictional seaside South Australian town of Snorkel Bay. Her family own the local caravan park. Her father has moved out of the family home into one of the caravans, her mum is stressed by money worries, her older sister is obsessed with tennis and her younger brother can only talk about his 23 goldfish. To top it all off, the one person she can talk to, her gran, is in hospital after a bad fall. Marcie wants to make her family happy and whole again, so she decides to enter a town Christmas competition. And she becomes the owner of a wishing stone!
Marcie is a loveable character who always tries to be kind and is thinking of others. Thus the end of the book seemed unjust and jarring in an otherwise uncomplicated narrative. Some understanding by her parents and truth from her siblings would have been more in keeping with the rest of the story.
For some reason the first four chapters contain an unusual amount of the story in brackets: There was a big lavender bush there (perfect to tuck herself behind). And an old bucket (ideal to sit on). At first it seemed cute, but it eventually felt overused.
Published in hardback, Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat has the feel of a “real” book. It has weight and quality paper pages. Thirty chapters in all, this story will give the early reader a sense of reading a “proper” book.
The black, white and blue illustrations by Adelaide-based Danny Snell are instantly recognisable as his work. He is most notably known for picture books such as Bilby Moon, Jeremy and Little Chicken Chickabee.
Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat is a story any child could read without parents needing to make sure the themes are suitable. Those who have spent their holidays at one of our wonderful beaches will have a real sense of the story and possibly be able to imagine they too are on holiday and running through the sand dunes. McInerney has painted a wonderful picture of the sea, sand, sun and holiday makers. This story is set at Christmas time and as such would be a perfect stocking filler for any child aged eight to 12.
Reviewed by Sue Mauger
Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: November 2021
This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.