I've been intrigued by this book ever since I saw the cover quite some time ago. It's quite distinctive. The story actually starts right there on the cover which is rather fun. Our narrator, 11 year old Henni is so keen to get going with the story that it starts on the cover. Stella Street is a typical street for an Australian childhood. The neighbourhood kids roam in a gang, everyone gets on, and life is pretty good. Kids always know their local neighbourhood best.
Stella Street is our native habitat. We know it off by heart! We know who will buy raffle tickets, who has loud parties and who will complain! We know where all the dogs live, including Barking Africa. He barks like CRAZY! Nobody gets past him. We know the walls for hitting a ball, all the good climbing trees, the short cuts and the long cuts. We know who makes good biscuits. We know where to ride our bikes to avoid the steep hills, and where the milk thistles grow for Claire’s canary. We know which drains block in heavy rain, where Mr Whippy stops, and the best places for roller blading. We know who gets drunk, which trees the cicadas will crawl up, and the best roof to watch the fireworks from.
But things always change, and Old Aunt Lillie at Number 45 dies. Her house is sold, and the Phonies move in. And suddenly there is trouble in the neighbourhood where there was none before, and it's up to the kids to sort it out. What are the Phonies up to? And where do they get all their money?
Henni has a wonderful, disorganised but observational style.
The library’s warm and quiet, except when this smelly old bloke sits near me sometimes. He has a whistle in his nose when his breathes, but he just reads the racing results and nicks off.
I think everyone knows that man. I certainly do.
Elizabeth Honey was a new Australian author for me. I know I'll read more of her books. I wasn't all that surprised to read of her Blyton-esque inspiration for Stella Street - a gang of kids (and a dog) having an adventure in the Aussie suburbs. Originally published in 1995 Stella Street definitely still works today, although the kids would Google things instead of researching at the library. Elizabeth Honey was playing with the form of books before it became mainstream, playing with font, illustration and found objects.
|Naturally I love a piece of Paris|
wherever it appears