I read this wonderfully written book in July last year but only put a brief Goodreads review up. It’s high time I corrected this as it’s a wonderful book deserving of accolades.
Book Review by Jill Smith©Jan18 (read July17)
Title: When the Lyrebird Calls
Author: Kim Kane
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Madeline has to stay the winter holidays with her Grandmother Mum Crum who renovated houses and lives on vegetable smoothies and exercise in Elf Cottage with an English garden in a small town outside Melbourne. It’s cold and her eccentric grandmother is a challenge.
After an early morning swim, Mum Crum sets Madeline the task of working on a huge old cupboard that’s in her room. Sanding it down and painting it was not her preferred holiday activity. If only she’d been able to stay at her best friend’s house instead. While working on the cupboard Madeline finds a secret compartment. Inside they discover a box with a very old pair of shoes. Not the treasure Mum Crum hopes for, but to Madeline they are, and she puts them on. Apart from a list of names and addresses, there’s nothing else in the secret drawer.
Mum Crum suggests Madeline take the list and the shoes down to ‘Lyrebird Muse’ a museum in a formerly grand home used as a summer retreat by a wealthy family in the previous century. The stone building is an impressive landmark in the district dating to the time before Federation. Lyrebirds had once been plentiful in the Dandenong’s but no longer. Dressed in Mum Crum’s old black turtleneck jumper and woolly skirt she heads off.
The caretaker at the Muse doesn’t give Madeline time to explain why she’s there and sends her on her way. Walking away after going down the hill to a park then past it to an old woolshed she finds a lane she hadn’t been on before. The shoes are hard to walk in and she sits down near some stones. ‘Maddison 4 Kai’ was carved into one of them. She pushes her nail into the K of Kai and wobbles the rock, she pushes some more till the rock tilts on its point and flips. On the back of the stone is a picture. Madeline is amazed to see a Lyrebird strutting nearby. She’d never seen one before, not even in a zoo.
The beautiful bird makes a gong sound that isn’t like a bird call at all. Then, a girl with a round face asks her, ‘What are you doing? I want to know what you are doing in Bea’s dress slippers?’ Madeline quickly discovered she’s was no longer in her own time and that a little girl behaves very differently in this era. How is she going to get back home to Mum Crum?
This is a beautifully written time slip book. After seeing Kim Kane at Somerset Literature Festival in 2017, I was intrigued to see how her detailed research would help the book evolve. I was delighted to see how the history of pre-Federation Australia was portrayed in this time slip story.