Sunday, October 6, 2019

REVIEW: Olivia's Secret Scribbles: My New Best Friend (book) by Meredith Costain, illustrated by Danielle McDonald

Olivia's Secret Scribbles: My New Best Friend is realistic fiction with a hint of mystery. It's a chapter book intended for children ages 6 to 9.


Olivia has started a diary in honor of moving into her new bedroom, which is in the attic of her family's house. She's now in the perfect spot to keep an eye on her neighborhood's goings on, which is fun but also sad, because she can see the empty house where her best friend Lucy used to live.

But then Olivia notices that someone new has moved into Lucy's old house. There's also a new girl, Matilda, in her class. Is it possible that she and Matilda could become friends?

A coworker of mine recently had an "Usborne Facebook party," which I decided to treat as an opportunity to get my Christmas shopping for all my sister's kids done early. I like to read all the books I give the kids, in case they say anything about them (which hasn't happened yet, but an aunt can dream), so that's the stage I'm at now. This particular book was purchased for my youngest niece.

The story is set up as though it were Olivia's diary, complete with her various drawings. Many of the entries read as though Olivia wrote them only a few minutes after the events happened.

I really liked this! I wasn't expecting a chapter book to be so interesting, but I found myself intrigued by the mystery of Matilda's strange behavior, and I enjoyed Olivia's efforts to prove that someone was entering her room when she was gone. Olivia's various intruder detection plans were fun, and her curiosity about and frustration with Matilda were believable. The book's ending was sweet, but not, I think, excessively so.

The one thing that bugged me was that it seemed simultaneously like Olivia and her family had maybe just moved into their house (based off of Olivia getting a new bedroom) but also like they'd lived there for at least a year (based off of Olivia's accounts of slipping through the fence to play with her friend Lucy). It's possible that Olivia once shared a room with one of her siblings, but if that was the case, it wasn't mentioned. It looks like this series is a spin-off of one focused on Olivia's older sister, Ella, so maybe the situation is explained more in those books.

I hope that my niece will end up liking this as much as I did.

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