to have titles in which the multicultural nature of city schools is represented – and by the main protagonist. It is also refreshing to have a situation involving Ramadan and its demands as a central theme. There must be many young readers for whom this is a very real scenario. Both of these titles are well worth recommending especially to boys, KS2 and even a little older. Full of everyday action and humour, they move along smar tly, never condescending or talking down. Let us hope there will be more Wasim titles.
FH The Three Little Witches HHH
Georgie Adams, ill. Emily Bolam, Orion ‘Early Reader’, 96pp, 978 1 4440 00801, £4.99 pbk
‘Hubble, bubble! Meet Zara, Ziggy and Zoe.’ They are three little witches who are planning a Halloween party. Part of an ‘Early Reader’ series aimed at children who have acquired a degree of proficiency but still appreciate short text accompanied by colourful illustration, this book could also be
two adjectives is pure brilliance.) So the father continues working on his fantastical flying machines, until he is called up for the First World War.
Grahame Baker-Smith, Templar, 40pp, 978 1 84877 126 0, £10.99 hbk
A father is so obsessed with dreams of flying that when he doesn’t return from the war his son carries out the dream, hoping to hand down the magic to his own son.
The beginning of this story is cleverly symbolic, underscoring immediately the conflict between reality and fantasy, and acting as a portent to the unfolding tale. We know there will be sadness, without being told. For, with lyrical language and surreal images we are drawn into the mystical world of impossible dreams – dreams that while beautifully described and hauntingly evocative are tinged with a deep despair.
As the story develops we learn that although unrealistic, this dream won’t go away since it is ‘such a busy bossy dream’. (And the juxtaposition of these
This is a clever book on many levels, dealing with loss and how enduring love has the power to realise impossible dreams. As such it is a well-intentioned portrayal of pain and hope. But while the images are undeniably lovely, the use of photo collage and the limited palette, gives this book an other-worldly, distant feel, which is somehow disquieting. This is added to by the immobility of the characters, which seem to detract from the theme of flying. The boy does have some expression but his robot-like father stares impassively out of the pictures. No surprise then that the boy has to hang around waiting for this dad to remember his existence! Father’s wooden face does underscore that to the narrator his parent is a remote memory, which is an important point but the end effect is still slightly creepy. And while the father’s remoteness is a poignant reminder to any child who feels ignored, the anguish of both man and boy overwhelms the message.
This is indeed a beautiful book, but for all its bold invention and air y atmosphere, I feel it is far too oblique for many young readers and will be much more enjoyed by adults.
Frightfully Friendly Ghosties: Ghostly Holler-Day
Daren King, ill. David Roberts, Quercus, 128pp, 978 0 85738 045 6, £5.99 pbk
The Frightfully Friendly Ghosties receive a postcard from Headless
L P Howarth, Catnip, 144pp, 978 1 84647 103 2, £5.99 pbk
Leslie and it sets them on the path of a seaside holiday. This is a story that will hold readers right to the final pages, told with economy and with some good jokes. The ghosties are a frightfully good bunch to get to know. This is a light hearted carry on that will entertain and leave young readers wanting more.
Par ticular mention should also be made of the Gorey-esque illustrations. David Rober ts’ work with Julia Donaldson and Philip Ardagh has already brought him to attention but in this book you get a clear indication of why he’s such a hit. The expressions and the movement in the line drawings are wonder ful, conveying a whole situation, emotion or dilemma.
What would happen to the world if all the petrol and diesel suddenly changed into green gel – swar fed overnight? How would people respond and what would be the outcomes? The premise of this story is a good one as it asks some big questions that will interest children concerned about green issues, as well as those that just want a story that moves along at a fast pace. Ant, a young teenager, is the main protagonist who finds himself alone with a sick grandmother and no means of getting her to the nearest hospital. He must use all his ingenuity and work with others to succeed. There is plenty of action in this story as ‘swar fing’ happens almost immediately, however, I felt that there was little real chance to get to know the characters and too many sub-plots, such as who is Ant’s grandfather, that detract from the main story.
Fetlocks Hall: The Unicorn Princess 160pp, 978 0 7475 9931 9
Fetlocks Hall: The Ghostly Blinkers 128pp, 978 0 7475 9932 6
Babette Cole, Bloomsbury, £5.99 each pbk
Well known for her picture books, Cole’s jacket illustrations are as vibrant and amusing as ever in this series for older readers who love pony
Books for Keeps No.185 November 2010 25 HHH
read aloud. The incidents are reassuringly familiar but with the added ingredient of magic to make the lessons lively, rescue the recipe that goes wrong, foil the cheating wizard boys and the mean witch, Melissa, and, of course ensure the party goes with a swing. The book is attractively produced – text well spaced, different fonts introducing a welcome variety, while the cheerful illustrations add further visual enjoyment. This is a very serviceable title which achieves its aims but does not go beyond them. Though fun, the language remains as everyday as the incidents and the three little witches are really three little girls in fancy dress while Wizard Wink’s class could be any KS1 class – though it is sad it is not more multicultural. However, this title would provide an enjoyable addition to a classroom library.
Madame Pamplemousse and the Enchanted Sweet Shop
Rupert Kingfisher, ill. Sue Hellard, Bloomsbury, 176pp, 978 1 4088 0505 3, £7.99 hbk
Parisienne Madeleine is having trouble at school through no fault of her own. A new girl Mirabelle has joined her class and is making Madeleine’s life miserable in the way that bullies can. Enter what appears to be a kindly lady, Madame Bonbon, who owns a fantastic sweetshop, and who seems to be offering Madeleine a solution to her problems. But is this really a solution? As Madeleine begins to change, her friends sit up and take note. What exactly is going on? Kingfisher has no trouble in guiding us effor tlessly through the latest story in Madeleine’s life, which by the end of the book has been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. If you have not already read the previous books about Madame Pamplemousse, then read and enjoy them while you wait for the next course to be written. Encore!
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