by Anna Ciddor
reviewed by Zewlan Moor
Longing for Milly-Molly-Mandy for older readers? This is the book for you!
Inspired by the author’s childhood 52 Mondays is a collection of short gentle vignettes with a narrative arc, tracing young Anna Lewison’s quest for an antique doll. In its own quiet way (highlights of their life include eating jelly at the Myer cafeteria!), the plot is suspenseful and engaging.
Anna’s parents are loving and indulgent and help her search for the perfect doll. Her immediate family don’t consider themselves religious, but they still participate in Jewish cultural traditions.
The only mention of the family’s traumatic past is a page of description about her father’s childhood in Poland, the war years and a log hut in Siberia, which Anna considers ‘much too complicated’.
Many non-Jewish children would be fascinated to read about the Seder plate of symbolic food at Passover which includes salt water to represent the tears of the Jewish slaves in Egypt. The story would be an extra-special read for a Jewish-Australian child.
In tone and subject matter, 52 Mondays is similar to Seven Little Australians and All-of-a-Kind Family. In fact, this historical novel would be a perfect choice for baby-boomer grandparents to read with their grandchildren aged 5+, allowing discussion of their own memories of childhood in the 1960’s.
It would particularly suit readers who are reading at a higher level than their social or emotional maturity; or whose parents prefer to protect them from darker content. Ciddor celebrates the innocence of childhood and the way a child’s world centres around family and school where small domestic details, such as the desire for a doll, can be high stakes.
Allen & Unwin 2019 Paperback $14.99 208 pages Age 8+ ISBN: 978-1-76052-348-0