world. Katie in Scotland follows the success of Katie in London and shares its theme of a celebratory tour with Grandma and little brother Jack. This time the role of the magical guide played by a Trafalgar Square lion in the earlier book is assumed by the Loch Ness monster herself. They travel on a steam train from the Highlands to Glasgow, calling in at the magnificent Kelvingrove museum before travelling to Edinburgh to visit Holyrood, the Royal Mile and Greyfriars Bobby, before putting on a triumphant show at the Festival.
The simply written narrative is uniformly jovial, and the cheerful line and wash half-, full- and double-page illustrations show a Scotland oddly bereft of its dreichness and dreck. They do, however, bring out its wilderness and wet beautifully, as well as its architectural splendours. Mayhew’s mission is to help children appreciate and enjoy culture and the world at large, and this book promises to be a worthy contribution to that end; it has also helped to remind at least one adult resident of Scotland to count his blessings.
Pinkie Mouse, Where Are You?
Alison Green, ill. Deborah Allwright, Alison Green Books, Scholastic, 32pp, 978 1 407110 68 4, £6.99 pbk
This book’s sub-title, ‘A Tale of Hide and Squeak!’ hints at fun to come! The rhyming text rattles away and we soon discover that Pinkie Mouse is mischievous, whilst playmate Pangolin is cautious. Parent and Grandma Pangolin have warned him against playing near bees, chimps, elephants, porcupines, bush babies, or pythons. Pangolins tend to be shy so confronting all the above creatures whilst hunting for Pinkie is quite remarkable. The characters are well portrayed, in bold, plausible pictures which extend the story, allowing lots of talk about the animals, their habits and habitats. The twist at the end of the tale is quite endearing, encouraging an exploratory view of the world. The final page gives intriguing information regarding pangolins, sadly, an endangered species.
The Flute HHH
Rachna Gilmore, ill. Pulak Biswas, Tradewind, 32pp, 978 1 8965 8057 9, £9.95 hbk
Chandra and her parents live in India, in a village beside a river. Every day she helps them work in the fields and every evening she sits contentedly listening to her mother playing her old wooden flute. One year a devastating flood engulfs the village and her parents are tragically swept away, but not before they have pushed Chandra up a tall tree for safety. Her mother hands her the flute and tells her to be strong. The poor girl is taken in by her cruel and uncaring aunt and uncle; they show no interest in her and throw away her one
solace, the flute. After a harsh drought another flood delivers Chandra into the more caring hands of kind couple who lost heir own son in the flood that carried Chandra’s parents away, so the story ends happily.
This is an engrossing story, very well written in a style that evokes its setting and context and more crucially, its emotive content. The questions it may raise among young readers are relevant to real life events they may hear of in the news, so the story provides a useful stimulus for considered and sensitive discussion. A bold blue for the river and red for Chandra’s dress are the only colours added to the black and white (charcoal?) illustrations. A yellow sun symbolically only occurs on the early and last pages where Chandra’s life is happy. The unusual style of these illustrations is very well matched to this thought provoking tale. UC
Me and My Family: A Book for Adopted Children and their Families to Get to Know Each Other HHH
Jean Maye, British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), 88pp, 978 1 9075 8537 1, £15 spiral-bound pbk
The British Association of Adoption and Fostering is very good at producing practical, useful books for children in the process of being fostered or adopted, and this latest addition to their list is another good idea. Devised as a kind of scrap book, it is intended to be used as a child is getting used to the idea of being adopted into a new family.
The book is divided into three sections, the first of which is to be filled in by the prospective family and is called ‘Introducing ourselves and welcoming you’. It explains and shows pictures of the family, their home, the child’s new bedroom, pets, etc. and gives information about school and the local community. The child can ask questions at this point too, so some of the sections are left blank for him or her to fill in.
By the time the second section is used, the child will have complete control over the book. This section is called ‘Moving in and getting to know each other’, and while there are parts of it that will need the cooperation of the family to fill in, the child must decide which sections are important. There are places to write and draw about feelings and changes, things that are worrying, things that are happy, ups and downs, etc. There are pages about the child’s adoption day, and a place to paste a copy of the adoption certificate.
The third section, ‘Living together’, is a record of life as a family: special occasions, holidays, achievements, etc, including a shor t diary for recording events. The design of the book is colourful and welcoming, and altogether this is a useful tool for those dealing with children in the throes of adoption.
The Mother of Monsters: A Story from South Africa 48pp, 978 1 8468 6560 2, £5.99 pbk
The Abominable Snowman: A Story from Nepal 64pp, 978 1 8468 6557 2, £5.99 pbk
The Feathered Ogre: A Story from Italy 48pp, 978 1 8468 6562 6, £7.99 pbk
The Terrible Chenoo: A Story from North America
48pp, 978 1 8468 6555 8, £5.99 pbk HHH
Fran Parnell, ill. Sophie Fatus, Barefoot ‘Monster Stories’
the monster and the trickster and gain all his hear t desires. Pirola, the youngest palace gardener in The Feathered Ogre sets off to find a very special feather plucked from a giant ogre. He tricks the ogre and finds himself a surprise bride along the way. The Terrible Chenoo has a clever and brave hunter’s wife who outwits the Chenoo, but not in any conventional way; the Chenoo discovers for the very first time what it is like to have friends and his heart thaws.
Although these stories are short, some of the names and language used may not be the easiest for first readers. The stories do, however, capture the spirit of the culture they are from, they read aloud well and are very exciting. They are divided into short chapters which may well encourage children to have a go by themselves.
DF The Pirate Suit HHH
Raewyn Caisley, ill. Elise Hurst, Ragged Bears, 80pp, 978 1 8571 4393 5, £5.99 pbk
Ned has just moved house with his family, and living beside the sea means just one thing to him - piracy! Although it is fun at first to dress up as a pirate this game soon wanes; but Ned’s interest in pirates is still strong and is fulfilled way beyond his expectations by his kind and loving family. The sort of things that Ned does can be easily copied by readers and will certainly provide plenty of ideas for creative play. Facts about treasure and pirate ships at the end of the book provide additional material to be enjoyed. RL
Fern and the Fiery Dragon (The Railway Rabbits)
Georgie Adams, ill. Anna Currey, Orion, 96pp, 978 1 4440 0253 9, £4.99 pbk
This is a new series of Early Readers from Barefoot, though all the stories have appeared before in The Barefoot Book of Monsters. Each story features a monster who is defeated by clever humans. In The Mother of Monsters lively Ntombi is the Chief’s daughter who will not marry until she has seen the Ilulange River. Her journey is an exciting adventure which ends with her finding the perfect husband. In The Abominable Snowman Ramay is a lazy but clever boy who manages to defeat
This latest title in the lively ‘The Railway Rabbits’ series tells the story of what seems to be a fire on the railway. The rabbits move into action, but is the ‘dragon’, the fiery red steam engine, really to blame? The book is organised in seven chapters and would be a good choice for a parent or nursery teacher to read aloud to the very young while confident readers over about six would manage to read the story themselves. The attractive black and white drawings that appear on nearly every page add to the enjoyment of the book and show the personalities of the little rabbits in the Longears family. Good use of dialogue also helps with characterisation. Like the best writers of animal stories for the young – including Beatrix Potter and Alison Uttley – this writer does not use unnaturally short sentences, nor does she restrict vocabulary; and so we have words like ‘organise’, ‘preparation’, ‘important’ and ‘excitement’ as well as those appropriate to a railway context like ‘embankment’, ‘footplate’, ‘boiler’ and ‘signal’. I like the occasional variation in print size and orientation to indicate movement and loud noises. Children soon learn that in stories
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