Zola lives on Boomerang Street with her mum and her Nonna Rosa, who’s an excellent gardener. Zola feels lucky to live behind her cousin Alessandro, and near her friends Omar, Bianco, and Leo. She spends most afternoons with them, except for when she has music practice – Zola plays the trombone!
Zola feels as though her family doesn’t enjoy her music-making, but that doesn’t impact her as much when she finds out her neighbourhood friends also play instruments. Her grumpy, old neighbour Mr Walton, however, is not fond of all the children in the street practising simultaneously – it’s a noisy affair!
After Zola’s teacher announces there will be a talent quest at their school fete, Zola enlists her musical friends to form a band and enter the show with her. Thursday is their dedicated band practice day, but they’re struggling to agree on the specifics. Will they agree on a song to perform? There might just be an unexpected (possibly grumpy) conductor who hops on board and takes their performance to the next level.
Most readers know the author, Melina Marchetta. Her breakout YA novel Looking for Alibrandi is an Australian classic and she has written widely for adults and children since. This book is the fourth in Melina’s first series for younger readers. There will be seven in entirety – one for every day of the week. It is beautifully illustrated by Deb Hudson, and the illustrations are generously placed so that newly independent readers can rely on pictures to assist them with context.
There are some heart-warming scenes in the book that I think will spread a lovely message to a young audience. There are clear themes of unity, friendship, and joy, that readers aged 6+ will particularly enjoy. What positively struck me were the undertones of racial inclusion, respect for one’s elders, and being environmentally friendly – but then Melina always has been a trail-blazer in this regard, writing for ethnic teens well before anyone else did.
Over the years we’ve heard about how she adores the multi-cultural suburb she lives in, and this is displayed here. I thought the subtle inclusion of these themes was a clever way for Melina to communicate important traits and qualities to a young audience in a fun and digestible way. This is another wonderful addition to Melina’s delightful new series, bound to become an Australian classic.