Bored: Evie Dreams Big
ABC Books, 2023
240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99
“My name is Evie and I’m making plans. Actual plans. I’m going to build my own house. I’m not talking about some silly treehouse either. I’m going to build a real house.
Only it seems everyone else who lives in Turtle Place has an opinion they’d like to share. Frog and Milo want to build something totally different, Mr Santos is grumpy, Mrs Katz is spying on us, my sister is the most annoying person on earth and my parents don’t believe in me at all. But I have a plan!
I have big dreams when I’m bored …”
This is the third in this series featuring the kids from Turtle Place who are very ordinary and do ordinary things and yet the creativity of Matt Stanton turns them into engaging reads for independent readers. We’ve already met Milo and Frog and now it’s Evie’s turn who lives in a very nice two-storey house with her parents and two little sisters, so immediately you wonder why it is that she wants to build a new house just for herself…
Being bored is a common catch-cry in families just a few days into school holidays when the excitement of free time is worn off and the reality of the importance of the routine of school is realised, but it is often when we have the best ideas – or what seem like the best ideas. So while Evie’s situation may not be the same, it is familiar and readers will relate well to her and her friends, which is always a must-have in any story for this age. Kids like to place themselves as active participants in the plot and this is one of Stanton’s strengths, and in this story, there is plenty of scope for opening up discussions about how they would deal with Evie’s situation, which so many will be experiencing. Is there a more practical solution than building a house so you can move out? At the same time, Stanton acknowledges the need for more independence as you mature, the need to have a space of your own, the need to have your concerns heard and acknowledged and your ideas and dreams supported, articulating them in a way that might help the reader speak to their own family.
This might be just the book to rekindle the bedtime story ritual, so often abandoned when the child learns to read independently – certainly the parent won’t be bored and mat just learn something.