Adorable Willa is back in a new adventure which will again resonate with her young fans. Willa is very excited, though incredibly nervous, about her upcoming very first ‘real’ gymnastics competition. Her anxiety is not helped by her nemesis Evie’s constant jibes and taunts. Along with her team, she has been practicing diligently and while some of her routine is going really well, her vaulting really needs help. Luckily, her best old friend Frank, comes up with a super solution for her to be able to practice at home.
At the same time, the Sunset Views Retirement Village is going to host their inaugural Tournament of the Ages – oldies vs kids – and Willa and best young friend, Tae, are helping to organise it but there are some hiccups with which to contend (namely Evie – again!).
As always, Willa puts on her most positive self, determined to overcome all obstacles but when the absolute worst happens, and she injures herself and is unable to compete, it becomes very hard to keep up that usual happy outlook.
There is no doubt that Willa is resilient and the support of family and friends make all the difference to this determined young lady. Readers will readily identify with her trials and tribulations, and Jacqueline’s ease in creating sympathetic characters, though far from perfect, is again evident. There would be few kiddos who would not connect with Willa’s grumpiness after her accident. Being miserable is a hard mood to shake sometimes, and we all know it. I always love, as well, that Jacqueline’s unpleasant characters are rarely without some redemption, and Evie is no exception. When readers see her mother, they will understand the reason for the girl’s disposition.
What else can I say? I love Jacqueline’s books – as do literally thousands of other fans – and as I’ve mentioned before I have ‘big’ kids who will still turn to her titles or pounce on a new one.
It may not be due out for another few weeks but this is one you know will sell out as fast as it’s on the shelves so do your pre-ordering NOW! Highly recommended for your young newly independent readers – and all the other JH fans *grin*.
It makes me very happy that my first review for 2023 is for my lovely friend, and über-talented creator, Jacqueline Harvey for #3 in her latest sensational series. Jacqueline has a sublime knack for creating character with whom readers can immediately connect, empathise and love, and Willa – along with her ensemble cast – is no exception.
I particularly love that in this latest, Jacqueline addresses an issue that many schools have finally begun to realise can be problematic and upsetting for children – the ubiquitous Grandparents’ days and events. To be sure, the intention behind these functions originally was very sound: a desire to embrace the older generation and include them in their grandchildren’s lives. But as time goes on, it is more and more apparent that many kiddos are living quite removed from their grandparents, whether physically, or in other ways.
Clever little Willa conceives of a plan for her own school Grandparents Day to solve this problem for her fellow students and, at the same time, draws attention to situation at the local retirement village whereby the residents’ outings are threatened due to lack of funding. I love that Willa’s is constantly inventive and problem-solving – to be sure, sometimes she encounters obstacles but always she remains optimistic and positive. Along with the whole dearth of available grandparents, outings at risk, Willa also has a mystery to solve about her beloved four-legged friend, Woof. The lovable wolfhound has developed a very out-of-character habit of running away, not to mention stealing food and it is quite a conundrum to Willa and her family for some time. Astute little readers will pick up on the doggy vibe and predict the reason for Woof’s naughtiness, I am sure. The course of canine true love does not always run smoothly!
I’m sure smart librarians and teachers will already have clued up to this new series but for those who haven’t – or if you are looking for new books at this start of the year to tempt a newly emerging reader in your circle – you cannot go wrong with these. I also had quite the giggle with the reference to Willa’s teaching reading the class one of the Kensy & Max books – well played Jacqueline!also I think this is my favourite cover so far!
Goes without saying – my highest recommendation – what are you waiting for? Go buy it now!
Willa happens to find out that it’s almost Frank’s birthday and it’s a super special significant one. She feels pretty sad when she knows that Frank’s family, son and his wife plus children, who live in England are unable to even be in touch on this special day so, of course, she decides to do something about it.
Determined Willa thinks a surprise party is just the right thing but organising it takes quite a lot of creative thinking as one obstacle after another is thrown up but finally, it’s all in place and despite Tae’s misgivings that they know Frank prefers ‘no fuss’ it seems like it’s going to just tick all the boxes. But the biggest surprise of all is even more exciting than a party – and that part has nothing to do with Willa at all!
Once again this is such a warm and feel-good narrative about family and friendships, kindness and thoughtfulness. I know that children really warm to Jacqueline’s stories and characters because of these recurring themes. And really, how badly are such values needed in modern society? It is so important that we try our very best to encourage our little ones to have such empathy and consideration for others.
Jacqueline’s knack for creating her engaging characters and making sure each adventure is new and fresh has deservedly earned her legion fans of all ages and this new series is certainly going to take it’s place alongside old favourites Clementine Rose, Alice-Miranda, Kensy and Max.
Be sure to add these to your collection, where they will be in constant demand I can promise you.
Highly recommended for your young readers, especially newly independent, from around 5 years upwards.