The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie
Lucy McKenzie can walk through walls.
Sent to stay with her aunt in an old house in a hidden valley, Lucy discovers the house is full of mysteries. One hot, dark night, she hears a voice calling to her from deep inside one of the pictures painted on to the wall of the dining room.
On the other side of the painting, Lucy meets three children. Together they race horses through the bush, battle fire and floods, and make friendships that will last a lifetime. But who are April, Tom and Jimmy Tiger, and what magic has drawn Lucy to them?
The room was full of moon shadows and dancing light. But it was the wall around the window that Lucy couldn’t stop staring at, the one with the painting of Spring. It was as bright as a sunny day and the tiny yellow flowers that covered the fields were moving, as if a breeze had blown through the painting and set all the petals dancing. Then she heard the voice again. It sounded like a child’s voice coming out of the painting. She looked again and in the distance, on the far side of the painted valley she could see the tiny figure of a girl. And the girl was waving, beckoning to Lucy and calling her name.
The story of a magical house full of paintings has been with me since I was a child. Avendale, the mysterious (and fictitious) old house that Lucy McKenzie visits, is loosely based on three houses that once belonged to members of my family. Riversdale, near Nowra in NSW, is now part of the Bundanon Trust and is as beautiful as ever. The Grange in Harkaway in Victoria, was demolished when I was still in primary school though I visited it once shortly before it slid into a quarry. Lastly, Tralee, a house that really did have the four seasons painted (by my great-grandmother) on the walls of its dining room, was burned to the ground in the February bushfires of 2009. The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie grew out of the ashes of those fires. Nothing is lost as long as its story is told.
- Aurealis Award - Winner - Best Children's Book 2013
- The Kirkus Prize - longlist
Reviews of The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie
- Author Kirsty Murray paints the scene so vividly that we are there at Broken River, shadowing Lucy’s every move. We climb Pulpit Rock, we smell the smoke of the bushfire and we become as enchanted with the children inside the painting as Lucy is. This is an intriguing, beautifully crafted, magical story.
Wendy Noble, Good Reading Magazine
- Australian author Murray links past and present with sophisticated plotting and a wonderfully descriptive setting; the Australian bush comes alive in all its beauty and harshness, and the river that flows through both the past and present valley is an expressive metaphor for the flow of time. With a less accomplished writer, this kind of story could become simple nostalgia, but here it is triumphant.
A powerful story of life’s continuity; magical realism at its best.
- The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie is a riveting read filled with mystery and twists... Kirsty Murray’s attention to detail in this book encourages the reader to skip back and forth between decades with ease and believability. Although the clues were all there, I was kept guessing and enthralled until the very end.
I would highly recommend this book to 9-12 year olds. It will be particularly appealing to those with a vivid imagination and the love of adventure.
Ann Harth, Buzzwords Magazine
- This is an absolutely beautiful story. Set in the Australian bush, Murray's writing is so evocative that I wanted to step through those paintings myself. ... Highly recommended.
Erin Wamala, The Kids' Bookshop
- This story is like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe for Aussie kids... Children of all ages (including grown-up children) will love this story.
The Oaken Bookcase
- Enchanting, exciting, and shimmering with magic, this is a gorgeous adventure from a master story-teller. I wanted to follow Lucy right through the wall.
- ...a rich and beautifully crafted tale that drifts back and forth between times and it's truly captivating. Highly recommended.
- Author Kirsty Murray is adept at portraying landscapes, both of geography and of the heart. Her beautifully written book evokes the wonder and majesty of the Australian bush and the self-discovery of an 11-year-old girl.
Confident, independent readers (ages 9 and up) will enjoy Lucy’s wonderful adventure. This is also a compelling and satisfying read-aloud story for the whole family, guaranteed to stimulate discussion. Highly recommended.
Athina Clarke, Children's & YA Book Specialist, Readings Malvern
- If you are at all a fan of Tom's Midnight Garden, you must read it. If you are a fan of intergenerational friendships, read it. If you like lovely descriptions of beautiful places, and kids being kids, read it.
Possibly my personal favorite book of the year so far...
- There is nothing not to love in this rip-roaring adventure of love, friendship and self-confidence.
Kassidy Callaghan, Marsden Books Children's Showcase