Amy and Phoenix

By Jenny Woolsey
ISBN 978-0-9945341-8-7
Published by Pearls of Wisdom Press

Jenny Woolsey has written a charming tale about Amy, a little girl who lives on the family farm where her favourite ewe gives birth to a three-legged lamb. Amy’s father wants to send the lamb to an RSPCA farm. He’s concerned that a weak animal may attract foxes that could harm his livestock. However, Amy loves her lamb from the instant he’s born and goes to extraordinary lengths to keep him. Readers will warm to the growing understanding of Amy’s father to his daughter’s desire to keep the lamb and to the caring family dynamic in general.

This is a modern tale for primary aged children which includes aspects of life the contemporary child will relate to, such as YouTube, iPods and the mobile phone, and a child taking over the technology from a dad who isn’t ‘tech savvy’. However, it also embraces a child’s fantasy – Amy communicates with the animals and they can talk to her.

I love the way Jenny describes people and actions in a way that children will articulate, yet adults will smile at eg ‘A woman with bright orange hair and a big tummy stood up’, and ‘They (the animals) had scratched some pictures in the dirt of the barn floor, and (but the) animal sketches weren’t that clear’.

This is also a cautionary tale which teaches children to be aware of how they embark on activities. Even children must learn to plan pursuits wisely so that others are not hurt or put at risk. Amy’s lambs are stolen when she leaves them with strangers. Part of the pain she feels at their loss is guilt for having entered them into a competition which offers a substantial monetary prize that Amy wants to win to spend on herself. She would have been wiser to have taken a packed lunch instead of leaving the lambs with strangers so that she could wander away to buy refreshments for herself. Winning the prize means nothing when she realises she has lost the lambs.

If your child, particularly a little girl, loves to read, this is well worth the effort. There is an exhilarating crescendo that builds when Amy and multiple farm animals attempt to rescue the stolen lambs. This culminates in a potential heartbreaking outcome. But Mark, the vet, eventually points out that Phoenix is aptly named, and the climax is not what the reader may imagine…