Polly and the Puffin: The Stormy Day, Jenny Colgan
This is a sweet sequel which reads well even without having read its forerunner. The two-colour, fluid illustrations throughout the short story make for an engaging read for even the youngest audience members -- my 3-year-old, 5-year-old and 7-year-old all listened with equal interest while I read this one. That's saying something! For those looking for early chapter books, Esky can easily read this one on her own. The generous appendices of non-fiction notes, recipes, activities and poetry add significant thickness to the weight of the book -- meaning many young readers will be pleasantly surprised at how fast they finish the story! There is one part in-text that breaks the fourth wall of the story to directly address the reader, which I found to be a mixture of pleasant surprise and jarring (it isn't the only reference of its kind, but the others didn't have the same effect). You see, it compares the way Polly is being cuddled by her mum to the way the reader is being cuddled "now" -- I happened to be cuddling my little ones when I came to this part (and I was the narrator), so it worked, but this would be out of place had Esky read it solo. My only other gripe: I'm not a big fan of tantrums in books (especially ones that are rewarded, and Polly's kind of are), but I think they're not so bad as to entirely ruin things...but it's not my favourite narrative pattern. The tie-ins with book one are sweet, but also work fine if you're unfamiliar with what is being alluded to, as it's fairly easy to piece things together. The thing I liked most about the book was its presentation; the cover alone is darling.