Down Under Calling by Margot Finke Book Review and Penpal Activity

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I first became acquainted with Margo Finke via our Google + circles. There, we shared our love of kid lit, writing, and of course our love of Oregon. Margot, a native of Australia lives in Oregon which is also my home state. 

margot finke

If you only know one thing about Margot Finke let it be that she is a brilliant writer who grabs the readers attention from the first word.

Down Under Calling is a poignant story about Grandma Rose who lives in Australia and her grandson Andy Fraser who lives in Oregon. Reaching out over the miles through letters, Grandma Rose weaves heartfelt stories and memories which create a connection to her grandson so far way.

Down Under Calling by Margot Finke

As the letters go back and forth we learn of Grandma Rose’s attempts to save a joey (kangaroo), of Andy having to move to a small apartment because his father loses his job and of the many childhood memories that Grandma Rose has of Australia.

At the beginning of the story Andy’s mom has to force him to write a letter to his grandmother. But thanks to Grandma Rose’s very entertaining letters, Andy is soon converted into an ardent letter writer himself. Grand Rose inspired Andy to explore nature around him with his friend Kelly and to share his adventures with her. 

We greatly enjoyed the very humorous letters between Andy and his grandmother. It brought back memories I shared with my own grandma. Another element we greatly enjoyed in Down Under Calling is learning about Australia. Margot Finke through her character Grandma Rose shares many delightful details and the sheer beauty and diversity of Australia. The natural life, geography, and traditions are all wrapped up in this beautiful story.

We were sad to see this book end. It left us wanting to go to Australia but more importantly it had us looking for people to write letters to. This is a page turner of a read which is not to be missed. Margot also offers up great teacher resources and a “fun facts” for kids page based on all of her wonderful books.


 Something To Do

Let’s write some letters. You can choose a favorite relative and/or choose a pen pal who lives somewhere else on the planet. Here are a couple of safe kid pen pal sites.


Students of the World


Friendship By Mail


To know more about pen pals and how to make sure your children are safe, here’s a great blog post from Kid World Citizen. It has some amazing ideas and insights on how to keep your children safe while connecting with the world through mail.

penpals 2

Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided.


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