Zola and the Christmas Lights
32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99
Zola loves living on Boomerang Street with her mum and her nonna and next door to her cousin Alessandro in a little house in a little street in a little suburb in a big city. Every day of the week is an adventure and now, it’s Zola’s last day in 2B and having learned that not everyone in the class celebrates the Christian festival, she wonders what it is that all the festivals, stories and traditions have in common.
This year, though, Christmas will be different because Nonno is no longer with them and he was the one who transformed their house into a wonderland. The box of Christmas lights has even disappeared. And as Zola searches for them because the street hasn’t had lights for two years and she and Alessandro want to light it up once again, she learns what is at the core of the celebrations, regardless of their different ways and times of marking them.
For two years during 2020 and 2021, young readers followed Zola’s adventures as her curiosity got her into all sorts of strife but at the same time drawing her diverse neighbourhood into a community. For many, during the long days of COVID restrictions and lockdowns she became another friend who took her fans beyond their own rooms and houses for a brief time. Thus, for many, Melina Marchetta, author of Looking for Alibrandi (a classic for older readers which has just been re-released) gave them a gift as precious as Nonno’s lights and shows that this time of the year is so much more than expensive toys and shiny gift wrap. This is the perfect wrap for a delightful series.