Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat

Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat

Anna Branford
Illustrator:  Elanna Allen 
Fiction  Series
For ages 6 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2013   ISBN: 978-1442435940

Violet Mackerel is at the mall with her mother, and at the moment her mother is having tea with Mrs. Lin in the food court, which means that Violet has nothing to do, other than to look around. Violet is looking up at the tall ceiling when she sees a small sparrow. She wonders if it would be happier outdoors or if it is content to live inside where it does not have to deal with bad weather and where it can get doughnut crumbs and other treats to eat. The little sparrow comes over to Violet, who has no food to give it. She decides to give the bird a thread from her skirt, which is unraveling, and the bird flies away with the thread in its beak. Feeling very pleased with herself, Violet comes up with a new theory: the Theory of Helping Small Things. The hope is that by helping a small animal it might find a way to help her too.

When they get home, Violet goes into the garden and in amongst the fennel plants she finds a very small ladybug. Violet knows what it is like to be the smallest member of a family she decides that she is going to help her new friend. With great care Violet makes a “habitat” for Small Gloria in a jar and she is very excited about having the little creature living with her.

In the morning Nicola, Violet’s sister, is grumpy again because she does not know what to do for her natural science project. When Violet checks on Small Gloria she finds out that the little animal is lying on her back in the bottom of the jar and she is not moving. Violet feels dreadful, and so does Nicola. In fact Nicola is so upset about her non-existent natural science project that she starts to cry.

In this heartwarming book we see how Violet and her sister help one another get through difficult times. Together they find a way to solve Nicola’s natural science project problem, and together they find a way to make Violet’s ladybug mistake not so horrible.

With a light and sensitive touch Anna Brandford tells a story that will resonate with everyone who has felt bad about something that they have done. It is wonderful to see how Violet is able to make something good come out of an unfortunate situation, and how her big sister is able to offer Violet support.