Surviving Aunt Marsha
Author: Sofie Laguna
Pages: 208
Publisher/Date: Scholastic/2005
ISBN: 0439644852
Age Levels: 9-12

Book Review

The Wendle family lives in Australia. Eleven-year-old Bettina (Tine), and her younger brothers, Vince and Aidan, are flabbergasted when Dad announces that he and Mum are going on a three-week vacation to Paris. Worst of all, Aunt Marsha (Dad’s sister) is coming to stay with the children.

Aunt Marsha, who used to be a children’s nurse, is organized, tidy, and strict. She has certain beliefs—such as what children should eat, how they should behave, and even what they should read!

As soon as Aunt Marsha arrives, the children’s routine is turned upside down. Mandy, the family mutt, is relegated to the kennel outside. Meals now consist of delicacies such as cabbage soup and kidney pie. Tine notices the changes:
. . . now it’s like a different house. When I come home from school it smells different and feels different. Things are mostly still in the same place but it feels like we’re living in a different house—like the shape of the house has changed.
The children desperately miss their parents. And Aunt Marsha is not making the separation any easier. Vince, who cannot sleep without Mandy, begins to sleep outside in the kennel with her. Aidan’s behavior gets worse by the day. Tine, as the eldest, tries valiantly to keep her two siblings in line.

Halfway through the visit, Aunt Marsha throws Aidan’s favorite comics into the trash. Aidan runs from the house and up into the children’s tree house which sits high above the ground. Aunt Marsha is beside herself. (Heights are her one great fear.) Vince and Tine try to convince Aidan to come down but to no avail. Suddenly, a storm begins brewing. Lightening flashes and the wind begins to blow. Aunt Marsha is nearly hysterical. She decides to climb up the tree herself to bring Aidan down. In a surprising twist, the children end up saving Aunt Marsha. The scary event acts as a catalyst, bringing the family together.

The story, told through the eyes to Tine, is well-drawn, humorous, and touching. The dialogue, as well as the descriptions of the family’s daily life, ring true. A fun read.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2005 Education Oasis

About the Author

Sofie Laguna lives in Melbourne, Australia. This is her first novel.