The Key To The Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson

After their dad dies, the lives of May and her sisters are changed forever. The family have been left with little money, and May’s mum has started working night shifts to help keep them financially afloat. May is left to look after her sisters, Brooks and Palmer, but to do this, she needs her licence. This is where Pete, an annoying prankster and family friend, comes in – he’s the only one around who can teach her to drive and help her pass the one test she has failed in her life.

While May is busy trying to keep everything together, Brooks is slowly and destructively falling apart with the help of her sort-of-boyfriend, Dave. Meanwhile, Palmer is quietly watching and trying to cope with the loss.

This is Maureen Johnson’s first ever novel. Originally published in the US in 2004, it is finally being released here in Australia. Told from the perspectives of the three sisters, The Key to the Golden Firebird tackles family, loss and love, and is a perfect example of why Johnson has been crowned the Queen of Teen. If you love Maureen Johnson (and boy I do!), then you will love this. For ages 13 and up.


Angela Crocombe is the Children’s Book Buyer at Readings St Kilda.