New Girl (Ella at Eden #1) by Laura Sieveking, illustrations by Danielle McDonald
Publisher: Kane Miller Publishing
Number of pages: 192 pages
Published: First published February 1st, 2020 by Scholastic Australia
Source: Kane Miller Publishing
12-year-old Ella is following in her best friend Zoe's footsteps by attending the prestigious boarding school, Eden College. This is her first time being away from home, but having Zoe as a roommate makes her feel like she can finally settle in. Yet, things don't quite go as she had initially anticipated. Not only does she make a comment and laugh at a painting of fellow Year 7 student, Saskia's great-grandmother, but she also gets on the bad side of Year 7's housemistress and Vice Headmistress, Ms. Montgomery. How will she ever make amends? When items begin to go missing, and noises are heard in the hallway late at night, Ella puts her sleuthing skills to the test to catch the thief red-handed and hopefully show that she belongs at the school.
The main character in New Girl, Ella appears to be the same character across a few early readers/chapter books, namely the Meet Ella series, which continues with Ella and Olivia, the Ella Diaries series and now the Ella at Eden series. The first three early readers were written by different authors, with the Ella at Eden being written by Laura Sieveking. Danielle McDonald is the illustrator for all of book series. In all there are over 30 books. The reader can begin with the shorter easy readers and progress to the more advanced chapter books, following Ella as she grows up and begins her next chapter at boarding school.
New Girl makes for a fun boarding school story. Ella is confident and determined. She really misses her younger sister, Olivia and Ella often sends her an email, which the reader can read. Ella has a wide vocabulary and Sieveking ensures that the reader understands the more sophisticated words that Ella uses by providing the definition. For example, a word like antithesis, Ella would say "that's a fancy word for opposite." Ella really wants to get the best marks at school to maintain her scholarship and puts in the hard work to accomplish her goals. There's the day-to-day challenges of fitting in, attending classes, mixed in with the mystery of who's stealing items from the Year 7 students. There's even some late-night sneaking around the dormitory and sleuthing to find the culprit. The story reinforces the idea of not judging people too quickly and not making rash accusations until you understand the full picture. Overall, a fun adventure and I can see it appealing to fans who've read the earlier chapter books or who enjoy boarding book stories. The next book in the series is called The Secret Journal.
**A huge thank you to Kane Miller Publishing for the paperback in exchange for an honest review. **
I hope you'll check out all the other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge's blog HERE