Lola’s Toybox: The Patchwork Picnic
Hardie Grant Egmont, 2015
85pp., pbk., RRP $A12.95
Lola was never allowed in the shed – it was too messy and too dangerous And it had spiders. So when her mum decides to clean it out and invites the children to choose what they want to keep, she is amazed. Hidden under a sheet and cover in dust she discovers a very old wooden toybox marked with the word Timberfields. But older brother Nick also wants the box and as he comes into Lola’s room to demand it, she hides inside pulling the lid down only to find it fills with light and begins to shake. When it stops, Lola climbs out and discovers herself on a beautiful hillside and her Buddy, her learn-to-dress clown and favourite toy who had been in the box with her can talk and, with a little practise of rusty limbs, can walk and move!
Buddy knows all about this place where the toybox (now a picnic hamper) has taken them. “The Kingdom is where toys come when they are not being played with by their children,” he tells Lola. “And there are lots of different lands in the kingdom.”
So begins a new series from the author of Tree and Parachute that will appeal to young girls who are making the transition from structured home readers. In each episode, Lola and Buddy face a particular problem that has Lola having to decide the best way forward for all because as the only human, only she has the logic and emotions to seek a win-win solution. The problems that she faces in The Kingdom reflect those that the readers may face in their own world and so as Lola works her way through them, the thoughts and skills she brings to the situation can be taken on board by the reader. The series is as much about empowering the reader to be more independent as it is to tell an engaging story. In The Patchwork Picnic Lola has to resolve a dispute at the teddy bears’ picnic between the soft toys and The Plastic Prince and his army of plastic toys who while already ruling Nevercalm are determined to take over The Kingdom. But before she is trusted she has to pass a test….
Described by the publisher as “imaginative fantasy”, there are three others in the series – On the Story Sea, The Treasure Trove and The Plastic Palace. All will offer young girls a good solid read that they will enjoy.