Emily Rodda at her Finest: ‘His Name Was Walter’ & ‘The Shop at Hoopers Bend’
Many, many Australians know and love Emily Rodda for her ‘Rowan of Rin’ and ‘Deltora Quest’ series, and like many schools, each year we usually study ‘Rowan of Rin’ in our primary school. A number of her books are considered modern classics and rightly so. For me personally, Deltora never really connected, probably as I had read very little fantasy and sci-fi when I first attempted them as a young classroom teacher hoping to appear hip and happening by reading what my students were reading (which BTW is an excellent thing to do)! My personal Rodda favourites have always been ‘Something Special’ and ‘Pigs Might Fly’, and I feel like ‘The Shop at Hoopers Bend’ and ‘His Name Was Walter’ are a bit of a return to her earlier writing; I have so enjoyed both these stand alone novels.
‘His Name Was Walter’ contains a story within a story, as a handwritten book with extraordinary illustrations is uncovered, along with a decades old mystery of fortunes, and loves, lost.
‘Once upon a time, in a dark city far away, there lived a boy called Walter, who had nothing but his name to call his own …’
On a school excursion gone terribly wrong, four students and their teacher discover a strange book, containing the haunting story of Walter and a girl named Sparrow. ‘His Name Was Walter’ is an unusual mix of magical realism, historical fiction, mystery and fantasy and in the hands of a less accomplished writer one suspects it could have been a disaster. But Emily Rodda is one of Australia’s finest storytellers and ‘His Name Was Walter’ is an accomplished, genre defying tale for upper primary readers who demand Great Things from their late night reading!
‘The Shop at Hoopers Bend’ is the latest book by bestselling author Emily Rodda. This book is set in Australia and Emily Rodda makes it seem like you can smell the eucalyptus trees because her descriptions are so good. This story is about an eleven year old name Jonquil, Quil for short. Quil’s parents died in a car accident and she now goes to boarding school, but spends her holidays with her aunt or Summer Camp. On the way to Summer Camp, Quil is drawn to a little town called Hoopers Bend. There are so many mysteries about Hoopers Bend that are unsolved, it is fun to join Quil, Bailey and Pirate the dog as all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
I must admit that at first I thought this book was going to be really boring but as I kept reading I realised that the boring introduction was actually another piece of a very interesting puzzle. I would recommend this story to readers 9+. The book is about how magical things can happen in the real world. My mum says I now should read some other of Emily Roddas 50+ books like ‘Something Special’, ‘Pigs Might Fly’ and ‘The Best Kept Secret’.
Reviewed by PudStar, 9 years old.