The Susie K Files Nos. #1 and #2 by Shamini Flint Illustrated by Sally Heinrich

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Reviewed by Angela Marie

Two Susie K books.

Wanted: Two eager young readers with artistic flair and a strong sense of humour.

Introducing Harper, just 8, and Olive, 5 and three quarters.

Their mission. Read a Susie K book each and we’ll meet for a chat.

Mission accepted! With relish!!

 

Life of the Party! File No. # 1

“My name is Susie K and I am a problem solver.

It is a good thing I am a problem solver because, even though I am only nine years old, I have a lot of problems.

HUGE problems.

MEGA-HUGE problems.”

Interview with Harper, a voracious consumer of books:

Angela Marie: Please tell me what Life of the Party! is about.

Harper: It’s about someone who never gets invited to parties.Then she tells her mum she WAS invited to the party and she has to find a way to ACTUALLY get invited to the party. (In a nutshell.)

AM: Tell me about the main character.

H: Susie K …and Clementine. I kind of liked her (Clementine). In the book she’s called Susie K. She likes science and animals, but she’s allergic to fur. She plays the violin and people at school think she’s a weirdo.

AM: How do people at school treat Susie K?

H: Well, they make fun of her.

AM: How does she react?
H: Well, sometimes she doesn’t care. Sometimes she does. Maybe she feels angry and sad. I think that the people who were treating her not very nice, were not very nice.

AM: Did you understand everything you read in the book?

H: Yeah.
AM: Regarding the party invitation problem, does she succeed?
H: Yes.
AM: How?
H: One day she saw the person, who she has to get to invite her to the party, crying, and she was crying because she couldn’t have balloons because her mother said they’re bad for the environment when you let them go. Clementine said if you find a different thing I like instead of balloons, you can come to my party.

She (Susie K) tries lots of things and does find something Clementine likes, but accidentally sets fire to a tree. Then, at the party, when she goes, she actually does find something and they all like it.
AM: What did the book make you think about?
H: It made me think about parties cause at the end they have a party!
AM: What did you like best about the book?

H: I like it cause she’s like a problem solver. I think it’s a good way to solve it, but I think there could be a better way to solve it.
AM: Do you like the style of the story?
H: Yes, I do. I like the illustrations. They have lots of speech bubbles.

AM: Who would you recommend this book to?
H: I recommend it for people who like problem-solving books.
AM: Would you read more Susie K books?
H: Yes! (Target audience endorsement. Job well done.)

Shamini Flint, aided by the excellent illustrations of Sally Heinrich, has created a gem of a children’s book. She has captured the essence of a myriad of personality types, and is evidently a close scrutiniser of human interactions, affectations and generational angst. We meet the demanding and desperately hopeful mother and view candid portraits of both parenting and sibling behaviours. We meet the cool kids and the cool-kids-in-training. We meet George, the telepathic class goldfish and Susie K’s confidante, delivering his observations and pop culture snippets with tons of humour.

Most importantly, we meet Susie K, an amazing young (and slightly stereotypical) girl who has to learn resilience and find the key for fitting in to a situation that may not prize uniqueness. She tugs at our heart strings and we cheer for her triumphs.

Without proselytising, Shamini Flint has delivered a handbook that encourages young readers to consider people and situations in a different light.

This reader has now grasped the method to solve all problems, courtesy of Susie K. Identify the problem, analyse the problem, find a solution, test the solution and repeat until THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED!!! Thank you, Susie K.

The Susie K Files

The Life of the Party! File No.#1

(2018)

By Shamini Flint

Illustrations by Sally Heinrich

Allen & Unwin

ISBN 978 1 76029 668 1

90 pp

$9.99

Game Changer! File No. #2

“I can’t believe it.

I really just CANNOT BELIEVE IT….

What can’t I believe?

You’re going to be the STAR of the SCHOOL SPORTS DAY!!!”

Interview with Olive, another voracious consumer of books.

Angela Marie: In Game Changer! what is the main problem?

Olive: The problem is, well, she (Susie K) can’t find something to play for Sports Day. She can’t think of anything.

AM: Why is that?
O: Because she doesn’t want to do Sports Day. Because she’s not comfortable with all the people watching. She’ll probably be like 4th best player or something. She’s not very good.
AM: Why is it important to do sports?
O: It’s the rule. Her mum thinks she has to do sports. It didn’t work with netball or soccer or javelin or any sports before chess.
AM: Do you think it was important to try many sports?
O: Yes, you have to keep trying to see what you want to do or you won’t play it.
AM: Did you learn anything from reading this?
O: I already knew that you should keep trying stuff.It made me think like you SHOULD actually.
AM: What did you think about her method of solving problems?
O: You mean what did she do?
AM: Yes. Do you think it was a bad idea?
O: It was a good idea. Well, I don’t know how to describe it.They were kind of good and kind of bad. Somewhere in the middle.
AM: Is she good at chess?
O: Yes.
AM: Why is she good at chess?
O: Because she’s using her imagination.
AM: How did you think she felt when she won?
O: Proud!
AM: How would you feel?
O: Proud.
AM: Why is it called Game Changer! ?
O: Because it changes games.
AM: What do you think of the illustrations?
O: They were pretty good. They do help me understand the story a bit.
AM: What’s your favourite thing about the book?
O: That she doesn’t give up on sports that she wants to do.
AM: Do you recommend this book?

O: Yes.
AM: Who do you think would enjoy reading it?
O: Harper, Mummy and maybe Granddad. ( The love of chess plus universal appeal!))

AM: Is it serious or funny?
O: Well, it’s both of them.
AM: Would you like to read more Susie K books?
O: Yeah!! (Resounding endorsement.)

Author Shamini Flint and illustrator  Sally Heinrich have  crafted another wonderful story. Along with the recurring theme of resilience, there is an overwhelming message that, through a voyage of discovery, everyone may find their special place and talent. There are obstacles on the quest and a realisation that, although it may be hard to read others, there is great joy to be had through support and shared experiences.

As in The Life of the Party! Susie K works her problem-solving magic, and along the way problems are related to real-life events. There is a deepening communication of Susie K’s thoughts and of the pressures involved in taking a risk.

Susie K is joined on the journey by her ever-hopeful mother, her fairly-typical brother, dozens of school children delivering a multitude of messages, and George, the wonder fish. A crazy, tangled mix BUT the messages remain clear. And vitally important for parents, and for children as they navigate towards adolescence and growing independence.

Shamini Flint, the author of the popular Diary of a Soccer Star series, among others, transitioned from a career in international law to becoming a writer, a lecturer and an advocate for the environment. She writes with an infectious passion. She lives in Singapore with her husband and children.

Adelaide-based Sally Heinrich is the talented illustrator of more than forty books and receives international and national art commissions.

She also writes and illustrates her own picture books, novels and non-fiction, revealing an ability to adapt art style to genre.

The Susie K Files

Game Changer! File No.#2

(2018)

By Shamini Flint

Illustrations by Sally Heinrich

Allen & Unwin

ISBN 978 1 76029 669 8

106 pp

$9.99

 

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