The first in a new series for newly independent and emerging readers. These sweet stories tell of the everyday adventures of Zola Angelica who lives with her mum and Nonna Rose. When Zola is not at school she loves playing with her younger cousin, Allesandro, who lives next door. The family are coming to terms with the loss of Nonno Nino and kind and caring Zola is trying to lift the spirits of her Nonna who often seems sad, she’ll even try gardening if she absolutely has to.
Zola doesn’t like gardening - Nonna has taken all the fun out of it with all the rules and ‘don’t do that, don’t touch this’. But when Nonna asks for some help planting some special seeds that Nonno bought, Zola decides to help and hopes that it will put a smile back on Nonna’s face. Unfortunately, wherever Zola goes trouble seems to follow and the attempts to cheer Nonna up look destined to fail as seeds get lost before they make it into the ground and the ones that do attract the attention of a naughty dog who loves to dig.
At school, class teacher Ms. Divis tells the children of a community garden that was once a vibrant and colourful sanctuary that all members of the neighbourhood enjoyed looking after. Whilst looking at photographs, Zola’s attention is drawn to one that shows her grandparents enjoying the garden together and a plan begins to hatch in her mind to reunite her Nonna with the garden and help her find her long lost smile.
What Zola did on Monday captures the happiness and love of a close knit family. It is filled with warmth, charm and gentle humour. Zola is such a loveable and relatable character. She loves adventures but can not help getting into a little spot of bother. I love the family dynamics in the narrative. There are same sex parents, Zola lives with her mum and Nonna, Allesandro doesn’t live with his dad. In addition to the delightful story there are relevant environmental messages woven into the narrative on saving and reusing water, growing food free from pesticides and becoming self-sufficient.
Deb Hudson’s black and white illustrations are a wonderful compliment to the narrative and feature on almost every double page making the read inviting and not text heavy for new readers of chapter books.
Recommended for 5+.