Freya Blackwood’s illustrations compliment Australian author Libby Gleeson’s two lovely Australian mini-stories in the one book which will appeal to young beginner readers and especially to young girls ages 4-9.

The subjects may be thought of as trite – a desire for a necklace, and secondly wanting to give Mum a present all from her, not others. But these two subjects seem to capture the beautiful and yet fickle nature of young girls who appreciate beautiful items and who also have a close relationship with their mothers.

Cleo is going to a friend’s birthday party and she is not happy with the dress Mum has selected for her to wear.

Blackwood’s illustrations add a lot to this story – for example,Cleo’s downtrodden mouth is drawn with a masterfully simple stroke of pen to reveal the dissatisfaction with her dress.

At the party, Cleo finds many other girls have beautiful necklaces, and she quickly feels the need to own one of her own just liketheirs. Her hands touch her bare neck and she begins to dream what it would feel like to have one of her own.

After putting her demand to Mum and Dad, who are not about to give in immediately just because she wants something, she falls asleep that night and has a dream about playing soccer with all the other girls on her team. In the dream the other girls are all wearing diamond necklaces or richly coloured jewels as they run about chasing the ball!

When she awakes from the dream, the intangible dream has now become not just a need, but a desperate want!

Read on to find out how her parents will deal with this, and whether she will end up owning a necklace.

The other mini-story in the book is “The Present” in which Cleo desperately wants to give something to Mum on her birthday, all from herself rather than a joint present with her brother Nick. But Cleo has no money of her own to purchase something, so what will she do? She choosesa lovely way to give Mum a gift for her birthday, in a typical over-the-moon and enthusiastic, slightly emotional way, of course!

A former children’s librarian, Jane Fagan is currently a full-time wife and mother of two.