A sweeping yet generally accurate observation of girls aged up to 12 years or so, is that most love dolls, of some descript. In this age of zombie mutant, bloodsucking teenage wannabes, these aren’t necessarily the ubiquitous Barbie dolls or sleepy-eyed baby dolls either. Just about any recognisable, eye-catching, radically dressed, personality driven figurine will do the trick these days.
The crucial part is ensuring that the insane desire young girls develop for a particular doll or collection is born from an age appropriate and culturally enriching source. Not just as another clever marketing spinoff from the latest TV show.
This is where Australian Girl dolls, created by Helen Schofield, step in. Five doll characters, each with their own distinct personalities and backgrounds, aim to encourage imaginative, age relevant play. Chances are your daughter (or son) knows or is friendly with someone of a similar ethnic background as those of the dolls; such is the rich cultural diversity of our modern Australian society. Perhaps they can identify parts of themselves with their favourite doll. The exciting thing about the Australian Girl dolls is that now, thanks to Wombat Books, they have been brought to life through a new series of adventure based books.
Amy and the Wilpena Flood, by Claudia Bouma, is the second in the series (there is a third soon to be released) which features all five heroines but lightly focuses on one particular girl as the catalyst or driving force of each story.
The premise is simple: five girls form a deep, do-or-die-for friendship and discover a powerful talisman in the shape of a rainbow necklace. With the aid of this magical charm they are able to time-slip throughout Australia’s past, which inevitability enables them to solve the dilemmas that they chance upon, like missing turtles for instance.
This time, it’s Amy’s turn. After she finds a mysterious map, she and her friends transport back in time to Wilpena Pound in South Australia. From the moment they arrive, it’s a race to save not only Jessie and her family, whom they encounter there, but also themselves from an unexpected catastrophic flood.
Claudia Bouma manages to entertain us with an on-the-edge of your seat drama and catchy modern characters, in an upbeat introduction to our inimitable Aussie geography and history. The bold black and white illustrations of Emily, Amy, Matilda, Annabelle and Jasmine sprinkled throughout this chapter book by cartoonist, Jason Chatfield (aka the current Ginger Meggs), left me lingering over it long after the flood waters of Wilpena Pound had receded.
Packed with true blue Aussie spirit and solid reference to the favourable merits of friendship, courage and perseverance, Amy and the Wilpena Flood is a treat to read. And one you don’t have to be a girl or lover of dolls to appreciate either.
Great for primary school aged children.
View and purchase this book here.
Wombat Books August 2013