Violet Mackerel's Helpful Suggestion by Anna Branford
Published by Walker Books
One of many in this popular series is the story of a bright little girl, Violet, and her relationships with her best friend and members of her family. This book is based around a particular learning tool - flash cards - used to help others in a variety of ways. The language and themes effectively allow its independent readers to empathise and understand the characters' feelings, and the incorporation of new (Japanese) vocabulary adds another dimension to the educational aspect, without being overly didactic.
When Violet's friend, Rose, informs her that her family will be visiting Japan for six weeks, Violet is only a particular sort of excited. Rose's Japanese word-picture flash cards prompt Violet to make a set herself, with little reminders of her favourite things, which she sends to Rose in the hopes that her friend won't forget anything about her. In the meantime, her step-dad Vincent needs a reliable method to remember all the nuts and beans' prices for his upcoming job trial. Once again, Violet has a brilliant idea and she creates and teaches Vincent about utilising flash cards as a way of retaining a lot of information. In the end, Violet's helpful suggestions prove successful on all accounts. The heartwarming conclusion ties together the interconnection between Rose's trip and the nuts and beans, with the friends reunited and sharing their new favourite; the pink, speckled borlotti bean.
'Violet Mackerel's Helpful Suggestion' is a sweet, intriguing story of friendship, compassion, creativity and ingenuity. Complete with instructions on making your own flash cards, and not to mention the beautifully gentle ink and pencil black and white illustrations throughout, it is a valuable, resourceful book for any primary school aged reader.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Anna Branford
Illustrator: Sarah Davis
Title: Violet Mackerel's Helpful Suggestion
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: June 2014