Middle Grade Review: Carly Mills 2nd and 3rd books

Today I’m doing a double review today with the second and third instalments of the Carly Mills – Pioneer Girl books. I read the first one of these last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, and so I was stoked to receive these two and was delighted to find them just as enchanting as the first.

The first book Emergency! starts with Carly saying goodbye to her family as they leave her at boarding school. After an encounter with her new nemesis Simone, she ends up back into the past! Her shawl takes her back to 1861 Queensland where she meets Dr Lilian Cooper, the first female doctor in Queensland. Carly learns what it was like to live back then and witnesses the incredible amount of sexism and realises how far female rights have come. It’s nice and fast paced and easy to read. I think young kids will be blown away by how things were done back in the day – ‘You’re going to operate on the dining table?’ Carley asks near the beginning, and can’t believe there was a time when people went without proper hospitals or ambulances and modern day medicine. Carly also can’t believe the clothing and how trousers aren’t worn back then, and the misery of corsets. Dr Cooper is very likeable and a no nonsense kind of person.

The story (and Carly and her bestie Dora) continue to follow Dr Lillian Cooper and the extraordinary life she lived helping people all while standing up in the face of adversity. She was also the first ever surgeon and first woman in Queensland to drive a motorcar. I love the historical notes at the end of the book with the picture of the real Dr Lillian Cooper.

The third instalment of Carly Mills series Superstar is just as action packed, fasted paced and fun as the previous books. In this story, Carly travels back to meet Dame Nellie Melba, a world famous opera singer. This time her and Dora have an unplanned travelling companion – the sassy school girl Simone. Together the three of them meet a cheeky young Helen Mitchel or as she is known ‘Nellie Melba’ and learn all about her cheeky antics. They go back and forth between the present and the past, and watch as Nellie becomes one of the best opera singers in the world, and doesn’t let anything stop her from pursuing her dreams. Carly and her friends (although I guess Simone is more of a frenemy – friend/enemy) learn resilience and how to believe in yourself.

These books are fast paced and fun with twists and turns as we follow Carly Mills as she learns about these incredible historical people – all of whom deserve to be remembered. And what better way to remember them in fiction where the characters can go back and see for themselves, while allowing for the reader to understand and relate. I found them both brilliant and super readable.

Thanks to the author, Jane Smith, for sending me out these lovely books!


Title: Carly Mills: Emergency! & Carly Mills: Superstar

Author: Jane Smith

Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Published: 2021

Ages: 6+

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