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'The latest book in the Through My Eyes series, Lyla, is set in Christchurch during the time of the 2011 earthquake and aftershocks that greatly impacted on the city and its people. Based on the actual events in Christchurch, it allows young readers the opportunity to have an insight into how daily life can change so dramatically following a natural disaster. We see this through the eyes of fictional character Lyla, a teenager who shows great resilience, creative thinking, and courage as she deals with the massive impact on the lives of her family, friends, and neighbours. Lyla takes on the role of supporting many people in her community, forming new friendships and coping strategies along the way. Never knowing when the next aftershock will occur adds to Lyla’s daily challenges. She is a wonderfully strong character, who displays a strong sense of community and tremendous empathy and care for others.

I found this to be a powerful and thought provoking book as it allows readers to ‘experience’ the fear and challenges of living through this natural disaster. The everyday experiences of Lyla and her community following the earthquake, such as having no water, no power, unreliable communication networks, limited food, and unsafe buildings and houses all around gives readers some understanding of how devastating and catastrophic it was in Christchurch in 2011, a city that is still recovering from these events.

There is attention to detail and authenticity as readers are introduced to some new concepts and language, some specific to earthquakes, such as liquefaction (when shaking from an earthquake causes loose soils to lose strength and act as liquid), and some related to New Zealand and Maori culture, such kia kuha (be strong). The inclusion of a glossary is a very useful reference point for readers. A timeline of the actual events in Christchurch is also included, which provides readers with the factual details of the story’s setting.

I feel that this book will particularly appeal to the Year 5 – Year 8 students at my school. It also links in with integrated topics looking at natural disasters and how children live around the world.

Overall, an absorbing and insightful addition to the Through My Eyes series, and I highly recommend it. Marissa Caluzzi, Junior School Teacher Librarian, Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School (CBCA newsletter, March 2018)