REVIEWED BY MILLIE, 11, WA
Withering-By-Sea: A Stella Montgomery Intrigue, by Judith Rossell, ABC Children’s Books, ISBN 9780733333002
The Children’s Book Council of Australia didn’t make a wrong move when they chose Judith Rossell’s first book in the Stella Montgomery series for a shortlisted book award 2015. Jen Storer, an award winning author for children’s books, said, “I was hooked from the first page.” I was hooked as well, with the excellent start, but it isn’t just the start, the whole book was fabulous!
Withering-by-Sea is a small town on the coast of an island. Stella Montgomery lives with her aunts in Hotel Majestic, a hotel that stood right on the end of the cliffs. Every day, Stella escapes from her mean aunts, into the conservatory. She there reads her atlas, the only book that she owns, hidden in the ferns. Whilst reading the atlas, Stella sees something she shouldn’t have, and accidentally makes a promise. This promise quickly turns into a tale full of old magic, mysteries and friendship. With the greedy professor on her back, who can Stella trust, and can she solve the one big mystery nagging her?
The main character, Stella, was very brave. She persevered, and kept on fighting, hiding, and never gave up, despite the urge to break the promise to live happily and safely. Stella was trustworthy, never breaking the promise. She always choose the right choice, whatever the price. I think that people should try to make the right decisions more often, whatever the price, like Stella Montgomery.
In this fantastic novel, the theme is old magic. Everything is about old magic, and sometimes can be unbelievable. The author wants to make this book seem like it was real, all the magic and everything else that normal people don’t believe in. To do this, the author and the publisher tried to make this book old fashioned. They printed all the writing, titles and subtitles in a lovely dark-blue colour, making it feel that no-one had opened the book for a long time, and it had been written long ago. The story had been edited to a font that made the writing old-fashioned. Judith Rossell drew amazing pictures to accompany her amazing story. Imagine, being able to write wonderfully, and draw amazingly, too! Her pictures were detailed as can be, and were printed in the same lovely dark-blue colour as the writing. All of these factors made up an old (and maybe classic) effect, helping you believe in the magic, tales and other things in the book.
Judith Rossell must be a very creative person, because of her very creative story plot. Just when you’re about to predict that something will happen, something unexpected will happen, throwing your predictions in the water. Although things can be a little bit confusing, the confusing parts will explain themselves along the way. Besides, it makes the story even more mysterious and exciting.
I recommend this very exciting novel to ages ten (10) upwards. I would also recommend this book for eager and mature readers looking for an adventurous, exciting and thrilling story to read. The genre definitely would be drama, friendship and mystery. After all, it is a story of friendship, resilience and trust. After reading this wonderful and creative story, I realised immediately why the Children’s Book Council of Australia awarded this fantastic novel!
This is Millie’s second book review for Alphabet Soup. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of The White Ship. If you’d like to read more book reviews by Beaconsfield Primary students, you can click on ‘Beaconsfield Primary School’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!