This is the second in Jane Bloomfield’s Lily Max series, published by Luncheon Sausage Books, and as you would suspect, it is all about fashion, baby. Every budding fashionista needs these books.
Lily Max lives a slightly surreal life in an unnamed town quite like Queenstown, with her clothes designer / seamstress mum, her snow sculptor dad, her bothersome (but getting easier to get along with) sister Angelica, her 3-year-old brother Rocco, and their cat Dottie. The book opens on a snow day, with pancakes and snow sculpting and the small matter of a slightly over-decorated school issue ski suit. Lily Max is getting ready for the first of six weeks of school ski days; she can’t ski even a little, her best friend Greer is still in LA, and she has nothing to wear.
Before they get on the bus to the skifield, Lily Max’s teacher Mr Younger gives her a flier advertising a Charity Ski Fashion Show. Then, when they get there, Lily Max’s ski instructor is super-hot Swiss guy Fabien, who seems to be related to her friend Jonathon, and swears that nobody fails his classes. So we are set for the plot: learning to ski, and pulling together a fashion extravaganza. While solving the mystery of her Gran’s ski career coming to an end thanks to a certain Edgar from Switzerland.
The best thing in the book for me is Bloomfield’s description of what it is like to be a beginner skier – and what it is like to start getting the hang of it, when you suddenly start flying and realise that this what snow is for. Her writing literally made me dream of skiing, I woke up as the weightlessness of zooming down the mountain made me lose my balance in bed. “I push down on one leg then the next. Left. Right. Left. Right. Down we go. Wheee! The wind whistles around my Vuarnet sunglasses and into my eyes. Tears stream down my face but i am not crying. I’m so happy! I’m skiing! Finally!”
I was a little disappointed that the book had such a similar plot angle to the previous one; putting Lily Max outside of her fashion comfort zone – away from her arch-enemy Violet, for one – may have developed her pretty cool character even further. Mimi was a welcome new character though, with her awesome national costume and her very useful mum (who sews Korean wedding dresses for a living!) But you know what, kids who enjoyed the first book will love this*, and the attention to fashion detail is superb. “The flared legs of my deep-yellow ski pants fit snugly over my black punk-effect ski boots. I just added two brass buttons on each boot; they shine bright. Mini medallions of hope and determination.”
Recommended to boys and girls of fashion, and those who just love a touch of the outrageous – pop this in their Christmas stocking and they’ll love you for it.
Reviewed by Sarah Forster
Lily Max: Slope, Style, Fashion
by Jane Bloomfield, illustrations by Guy Fisher
Published by Luncheon Sausage Books
*When I was the age that these books are written for, I was utterly obsessed with the The Gymnasts series by Elizabeth Levy, not to mention Babysitter’s Club. The Gymnasts series in particular always angled towards the big ‘meet’, with arch-enemies galore. They were the same every time, and I used to read them consecutively once a year between the ages of 7-9. Jane Bloomfield knows her audience (and it’s kids like I was).