New legends and new monsters

New legends and new monsters

Karen Foxlee: The Trouble with the Two-Headed Hydra (Allen & Unwin Australia 2023)

Karen Foxlee: The Bother with the Bonkillyknock Beats (Allen & Unwin Australia 2024)

Mary-Kate Martin is a very special heroine. She is not as fearless as the classic protagonists, who jump into a hair-raising adventure to save the world without a second thought. She worries about many things: she doesn’t like brown coloring pencils, mismatched clothing, facing backwards on the train, starting and ending things or saying the wrong thing during small talk. On the other hand, she is calmed down by new, lined notebooks, unopened gel pen packages or thirty-minute infomercials about vacuum cleaners on the shopping channel. And, while she’s not good at starting and ending processes, she’s very good at things in between. That’s probably why she’s such a good monster hunter – of course, the good kind who wants to help monsters.

After her first adventure, Mary-Kate is sure that she will not be in such a dangerous situation again, but she is wrong. Her archaeologist mother is soon called to a Greek island to examine a tiled artefact depicting a mythical creature. Later, she and her grandmother visit a Scottish castle, where again mysterious legends are waiting to be deciphered. In addition to monsters, Mary-Kate also meets new friends during her adventures. One of the lessons of the stories is that friends can always be counted on. Such stories are also unique because, while in the past only the classic brave and perfect characters could be heroes, today the characters are as diverse as ourselves, and everyone can find a protagonist with whom they can identify.

Australian author Karen Foxlee grew up in a remote mining town in Australia and still dreams of walking barefoot along the dry Leichhardt River. She also writes books for children and young adults, which have already won several prestigious literary awards. So far, three volumes of Miss Mary-Kate Martin’s Guide to Monsters series have been published in Australia, and in the UK the second volume will be published in March and we can already read the first story in French. The illustrations for the books were made by the Australian illustrator Freda Chiu.