TROPICAL TROUBLE

Tropical Trouble is the third book in the Totally Twins series written by Aleesah Darlison and illustrated by Serena Geddes.

Persephone and Portia Pinchgut are going on holidays to Fiji with Grandma. The only problem is they have been forced to take their annoying 7 year-old neighbour, Dillon Pickleton with them.

Things don’t start out well when they land in Fiji and the twin’s luggage is missing. And that means buying new clothes in Fiji that aren’t to Perse’s fashion taste at all.

Almost as soon as they arrive at the Coconut Cover Resort, the outgoing Portia makes friends with Rushani and Gigi, two girls their age. But Persephone, being the shy twin feels left out again.

I love the way author, Aleesah Darlison gets into the head of Portia and Perse and even though they are twins, they are clearly, very different.

The story is told through Perse’s eyes as she writes down everything that happens in her ‘Fabulous Diary’. Once again, Perse’s voice is very strong and her humour and self-honesty endear her to the reader. She admits her own faults and this makes her real and allows the reader to empathise with her.

We also empathise with Perse because we can see that she cares about others, and she’s the one who looks after Dillon, who is feeling homesick. It’s also Perse’s kind nature that attracts the interest of Ashton whose parents manage the resort where they are staying.

The relationship between the twins is realistic and even though they have their differences, there is clearly a strong bond between them.

Travel writing Grandma who has taken them to Fiji is a great character who never takes sides.

The Pinchguts are a quirky but loveable family and I like the way author, Aleesah Darlison has created such authentic relationships between the various members.

Tropical Trouble is another entertaining and engrossing book in the Totally Twins series written by Aleesah.

Complimenting the text are the hilarious illustrations of Serena Geddes who accurately captures these characters and their personalities with simplicity and wit.

The Totally Twins series is published by New Frontier Publishing and there are more titles coming in 2012.

 

HOLIDAY READING – Totally Twins Totally New Adventure

Model Mania is the second book in the popular Totally Twins series written by Aleesah Darlison and illustrated by Serena Geddes.

One of the things I love about these books is that they are so true to life; reflecting the ups and downs and trials of being ‘almost eleven’.

Despite the fact that Portia and Persephone are identical twins, Aleesah Darlison manages to differentiate between them through strong character development revealing individual traits and characteristics.

Persephone is the quieter, more serious twin and in Model Mania she is again taken along for the ride by the more outgoing Portia.

This time, Portia has her sights set on becoming the next super model so Persephone is dragged along to fashion parades and film sets to offer Portia moral support. Persephone shuns the limelight but more than that, she hates what the pursuit of fame is doing to Portia and to their friendship group.

Portia preening and pouting her way to fame is hilarious, especially as told through Persephone’s quiet wit. Model Mania handles real dilemmas faced by girls this age but the humour and charm of the book stop it from being too intense.

Once again, Persephone tells the story through her diary and she has plenty more tips and lists for readers.

Amidst the turmoil of Portia’s newfound fame, the twins also have to deal with a new man in their mother’s life and an increase in the demands of her work schedule. As usual, Persephone feels as if she is being dragged along by the demands of everyone else’s needs and plans.

In true sisterly style, Portia and Persephone always seem to sort things out in the end despite their differences.

The Totally Twins series is ideal for girls aged 9+ years. Readers will also want to check out Persephone’s new blog at www.totally-twins.blogspot.com

FRIDAY BOOK FEATURE – TWICE THE FUN – “TOTALLY TWINS

Totally Twins is the new fun series for readers aged 9+ from New Frontier. The books that follow the life of twins Persephone and Portia are written by Aleesah Darlison and illustrated by Serena Geddes. Both Aleesah and Serena have been at Kids’ Book Capers this week talking about their career journeys.

Aleesah is back to today to talk about the creative process behind Totally Twins. I asked Aleesah why readers will enjoy the series.

Perse has a unique way of looking at things, which I think readers will connect with. Even though she’s shy, she doesn’t hold back in her diary. She lets readers know exactly how she feels. There’s also lots of zany characters in the books. For instance, Perse’s mum, Skye, is a yoga teacher and a laughter therapist. Her gran is a travel writer who goes bungee jumping. Her annoying next-door neighbor, Dillon Pickleton (aka Dill Pickle) is obsessed with Perse and Portia’s ‘twin-ness’ and runs around the yard playing knights and dragons with his dog, Camelot.

The series is written in diary format by Persephone (she’s the sensible twin) and the first book, Musical Mayhem is about a school musical.

Portia is the outgoing twin who loves to sing. Persephone (or Perse for short) is the shy twin who is often overshadowed by her super-confident sister and who is also a terrible singer. Perse can’t bear the idea of having to get up on stage in front of people. But everyone in class must play a part on stage…

Serena Geddes illustrations feature on every page and kids will connect with these books because they will relate to the characters and the problems that are faced by Persephone and poured out in her diary.

Aleesah says she is loving writing Totally Twins.

I love writing as Perse. I find it so easy to slip into her character and express her feelings about whatever challenge, or whatever joy, she’s facing. I think her sense of humour and her sensitivity may be similar to mine and she’s a Gemini like me, too. I also love writing about the other characters in the book. They’re always good for a laugh.

Working with an illustrator and seeing my characters breathed into life has been a very special and joyful experience, too.

Readers won’t have to wait long for the second book in the Totally Twins series. Model Behaviour is due out next month.

MY REVIEW OF MUSICAL MAYHEM

Just like Aleesah Darlison, I always thought it would be great to be a twin. I imagined how it would be to have someone who understands how you think and feel. And the idea of being able to switch identities seemed so appealing.

But as Aleesah conveys in Musical Mayhem, there’s also a downside. It can be easy for one twin to overshadow the other, for one or both to lose their individual identities.

Musical Mayhem is the first book in the Totally Twins series about ‘nearly eleven’ year-old twins Persephone and Portia Pinchgut. In a fun and engaging way, it raises issues of the ups and downs of being a twin.

The book is written in diary form from the point of view of Persephone, the ‘quiet’ twin. Her talented twin, Portia is trying out for the lead role in the school musical and it’s compulsory for every student to audition. The problem for Persephone is that she’s a really bad singer.

The thing that really came through in this book was the strong voice of the main character. Although she is the quiet one of the pair, Persephone has a lot to say in her diaries and she really lets the reader feel as if they are part of her world.

Persephone has a humour and perspective on life that will resonate with young readers. Her everyday problems with friends and family and how she handles them give us great insights into her character and make her likeable. Not so likeable is her twin sister Portia, although she shows remorse and reconciles with Persephone in the end.

I enjoyed reading about Persephone and was pleased to see her problems resolved, although it looks like she has plenty more to come (Book 2, Model Behaviour is due out in October). The relaxed format of this book and the great illustrations by Serena Geddes compliment the text and help to make Musical Mayhem a fun read for readers aged 9+.

Musical Mayhem is published by New Frontier Publishing.

MAKING THE DREAM A REALITY – MEET ALEESAH DARLISON – PART ONE

Four years ago Aleesah Darlison realized she could awaken her dreams of being a published author by writing when the kids were asleep and still be a mum.

I could have the best of both worlds! I also realized I wanted to write for children so I started learning ‘the craft’ properly for the first time in my life.

I attended workshops, networked, read stacks of kids’ books, wrote in every spare second that I could, entered every competition that came my way, sent my work away to publishers. I got loads and loads of rejections, but I also started to get acceptances. Slowly, I began to make the unattainable dream a reality.

Aleesah has always been an avid reader and says that somewhere deep inside she has always been a writer, too. She won a writing competition when she was a teenager, and started dabbling in writing then, but she never properly embraced the challenge – or dared to dream that she could be a real, published author – until much later in life.

I think it was never letting go, and always working hard to achieve that dream that finally made me believe I was a writer. I’ve doubted myself often, but thankfully I’ve had others close to me who have believed in me.

This month Aleesah celebrates the release of Musical Mayhem, the first book in her Totally Twins series about identical twins, Persephone and Portia Pinchgut. As a child, Aleesah always wanted an identical twin.

I’d read stories about identical twins playing tricks on people and sharing things no one else could. In times when I felt unfairly treated by my parents, I always thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a twin, a soul mate, who would feel as miserable as I do right now, or who would cheer me up?’. So, when I came to write this book, I drew on those memories and that desire to have a soulmate to share everything with. I also realized that sometimes things wouldn’t be perfect between twins and that I could draw on that fact to create loads of drama.

The Totally Twins series (for girls aged 9 +) is written in diary format by Persephone, and Magical Mayhem is about a school musical. Portia is the outgoing twin who loves to sing. Persephone (or Perse for short) is the shy twin who is often overshadowed by her super-confident sister and who is also a terrible singer. Perse can’t bear the idea of having to get up on stage in front of people. But everyone in class must play a part on stage…

Readers can find out more about Persephone or get in touch with  Aleesah by visiting her website at: www.aleesahdarlison.com.  And for more information about Serena Geddes and her work, they can visit her website at: www.reeni.com.au. Aleesah says,

Serena and I are embarking on a national tour to promote the Persephone series in schools and libraries as a ‘Dynamic Creative Duo’ and to give the inside scoop on Persephone and her sister, Portia. We’re really looking forward to it. We hope to meet lots of Perse fans, and lots of Kids’ Book Capers readers, over the next few months.

On Wednesday, Serena will visit Kids’ Book Capers to talk about her journey and her wonderful illustrations, and on Friday, we’ll go ‘under to cover’ of  “Totally Twins” and find out more about Persephone and Portia Pinchgut and their story.