The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea
A&U Children’s 2023
64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99
Ollie is an owl who wears glasses. And Bea is a bunny with very big feet, but, despite their differences they are best friends who work together to solve mysteries.
These are the two latest adventures in this graphic novel series for young readers transitioning from the basal readers of commercial reading schemes to less-controlled books offering a stepping stone to more complex “early chapter books”. Following the format of the previous four where the emphasis is on the conversation between the characters, Treml again places her characters into situations that are familiar to her audience. In Bunny Ideas Bea is planning some fun games to play with her friends but they must follow her rules while in a game becomes a quarrel that threatens friendships, offering opportunities for the reader to consider what options there are for harmony and what choices they might make in a similar situation.
In a recent media interview I was asked why I thought it was important for little ones to read and apart from fueling their imagination and inspiring their dreams, I emphasised the need for them to read about children and characters who were just like themselves so that they could not only see themselves in stories and thus affirming who they are as they are is enough, but that they could encounter and solve problems such as those in these stories from a distance. Contemporary realistic fiction has been defined as “real stories that could happen here and now [in which] the author attempts to weave a story based on believable characters, a plausible plot and a recognisable setting so that young readers … can vicariously live through the story’s characters while they read” (Travers, B. E. & Travers, J. F. (2008) Children’s literature: A developmental perspective. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley) and while it is a term usually applied to literature for young adults, IMO Treml has nailed it in this series for much younger readers.