reviews 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued

into one of those ice-cream parlour counter displays filled with delectable open containers of ice creams of various alluring hues. And, he’s imbued the whole story with a prevailing sense of community that not even the bad mood could dissipate. JB

The Last Chip HHHH

Duncan Beedie, Templar, 32pp, 978-1-7837-0062-2 £6-99 pbk

This book supports The Trussel Trust, a foodbank charity. It champions diversity, and shows

how strangers can be life-saving. Percy Pigeon is small and alone, and hungry. Whenever he finds a food opportunity he is bullied and denied any share of food. He tries many hopeful sites; the railway station with its rushing commuters, the city rooftops, (St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol?) and he even flies to the park, where he knows people throw food into the pond to feed the birds. (Oh, what gloriously happy and fat ducks they are!) Again, Percy is driven from the pond, the ducks thrashing him with wings and abuse. Flying to the seaside, at last he spots a discarded piece of fish. But his excitement is soon crushed by a huge, peg-leg of a giant seagull, complete with skull and crossbones pirate’s hat….. spot the I love MUM tattoo! ‘THERE BE NO PICKINGS FOR LAND-LUBBIN’ VERMIN LIKE THEE,’ roars the seagull. He grabs poor Percy and slam-dunks him into a rubbish bin. Weak with hunger, Percy eventually makes it home, plummeting from the skies to the street below, landing next to a street-dweller. She recognises his acute hunger, and offers Percy her last chip of the title. The author/illustrator has used the illustrations to add much to this story, using flat tones and muted colours. Visual jokes abound; spot the water-skier coming a cropper, the fisherman knitting his net, Mr Drippy the ice-cream man and van. This is a book to make the reader think. Percy never gave up. He found someone who could save him. Someone who needed saving herself. GB

The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes


Ying Chang Compestine, ill. David Roberts, Abrams Books, 32pp, 978 1 4197 2542 5, £12.99 hbk

In this reworking of Hans Anderson’s amusing tale we meet Ming Da; a very different kind of ruler. Becoming emperor

at only nine year’s from the

Ming Da’s greedy, selfish ministers decide to take advantage of him and steal

treasury, meaning

he is unable to help the people of his kingdom who are poor and hungry. Ming Da is determined to do something about this and hatches a plan with the court tailors. Dressed in rough sacking painted with ink and vegetable juice, the young emperor


convinces his foolish ministers he is dressed in finest silks and persuades them to have similar clothes made to wear at the New Year’s parade. Each of the vain ministers wants to have the most magnificent costume and pays the tailors with gold, jewels and rice to make their outfit the most splendid. At the parade the crowd roar with laughter when they see the Emperor and his minsters wearing old sacks. Realising they have been tricked, the corrupt officials run away and Ming Da now has the money and food to look after his citizens so that they no longer suffer. This is a well told story with a clever

twist on the original tale. The author’s note at the back of the book provides an insight into her own experiences growing up during the Revolution and her


the story. Roberts’ attractive, stylised illustrations evoke the

inspiration for designs


ancient China and add to the humour, the


stunning. This would be a great story to share at Chinese New Year and the inclusion of instructions for how to make your own New Year parade costume is a nice touch. SMc

The Star Tree HHHHH

Catherine Hyde, Lincoln Children’s Books, 32pp, 978 1 84780 673 4, £7.99, pbk

This illustrator, renowned for her

illustrations of her other picture books, all three nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal,

has also

written the text of this book, marrying the ethereal words with the mythical pictures, creating a book with a wondrous glow about it. It is midnight at midsummer. Mia is awake, and she tiptoes to her window to look out of the dreaming house to the moonlit garden. Her magical adventure begins as she sits upon her rocking horse, swinging high and low. She wishes on the midsummer moon. As she wishes, the Great White Owl swoops to her window, singing a song, willing her to climb on his back and fly away with him; to sail with the Little Red Hare, (spotted on her windowsill)… away to the north, the snow, looking for the land with a light in a tree. The text murmurs on with such quiet

yet demonstrative

adjectives creating images beyond those in the illustrations, ‘where the blunted weather vane barely stirs.’ Their destination is reached, ‘as the snow falls and the stars bloom and the sky shines, and Mia plucks one small star from the gleaming tree.’ The homeward journey is just as magical, until we join Mia, deeply sleeping in her bed as the house breathes in, and the house breathes out. This is a book which demands reverential turning of each page, and study of each softly chalked illustration, with an immediate return to the beginning having reached the final page. Hyde has truly captured magic. I loved it.GB

scene is particularly Where’s Your Creativity? HHH

Aaron Rosen and Riley Watts, ill. Marika Maijala, Tate Publishing, 32pp,978-1-8497-6509-1, £11.99 hbk

Do a little dance. Wriggle like a snake. Then drift like a cloud.’ There are many ideas in Where’s Your Creativity? to entice everybody – young and old – to find it. The book is definitely one to dip in and out of especially on a rainy day. Each set of pages has a particular theme around which to get creative e.g. through a physical activity, when you’re outside, when you’re eating. There’s a great hint about being creative when lying around in the sitting room with suggestions about pillows: ‘...the book beside you is a treasure map, the pillow is an island and your cup is a telescope.’ The words have an easy to read

rhythm which gives a fun flow to the book. Marika Maijala’s illustrations are very bright, bold and cheery with some effective full colour pages. The drawings are quirkily done with a freedom about them-the movement adding to the call to ‘get creative.’ There are lots of little seeds of ideas in the book to inspire children to start to play and imagine. It’s a lovely beginning into imagining, thinking and exploring. SG

Everybody Feels…. HHHH

Happy 978 1 78493 858 1 Sad 978 1 78493 856 7 Scared 978 1 78493 857 4

8 – 10 Junior/ Middle

Sky Song HHHHH

Abi Elphinstone, Simon and Schuster, 288pp, 978-1-4711-4607-7, £6.99 pbk

In the icy lands 12-year-old of huntress every situation.

Erkenwald, Eska


accidentally freed from her year-long imprisonment in a cursed music box by Flint, a boy with an invention for almost

Blu, Flint’s younger sister, Pebble, an excitable and permanently hungry fox cub and Balapan, a powerful eagle, they must escape from Winterfang Palace and ultimately overcome the evil Ice Queen, who is stealing the voices of her subjects in a desperate quest for immortality. The only way that she can be defeated is by finding the ancient Frost Horn and using it to release the magical Sky Song, which will then unite the three tribes of the frozen kingdom.


Angry 978 1 78493 855 0 Moira Butterfield, ill. Holly Sterling, QED Publishing, 24pp each, £6.99 pbk

This series of picture books contain both story and information in context, and will prove a real winner, particularly for schools. The books share the same characters, sometimes at the same school and sometimes at home. Happy tells us about Ethan who is happy because he is going on holiday and Sophie who makes gifts for her friends, who then reciprocate and everyone is happy. Sad gives us Chloe, who is sad because she has lost her favourite toy; Omar is sad because his cat has died. In Scared, Omar is frightened of going to his new school and Chloe doesn’t want to stand up in front of the class for ‘show and tell’. Angry shows us Sophie getting very angry because her little brother has drawn on her picture and Ethan angry with his brother who has eaten his chocolate. The stories feel very real, and the emotions come through nicely with lots of integrated text and bright pictures. There is also good resolution for each child. A chapter in the beginning of each book explains what each emotion feels like in quite graphic ways: anger is ‘like a kettle about to boil…clenched fists… face screwed up’. There is a table of contents, a glossary with pictures, and a summation of each of the stories which should help with activities in school, and at the very end, there is information for teachers to help plan for such. Altogether a good series for explaining basic emotions to children in ways that will be well understood. ES

This is a fast-paced adventure, full

of action and excitement, but it also contains a deeper message about the importance of loyalty and friendship. The world that Abi Elphinstone has created

is beautifully drawn and

introduces many concepts of ancient mythology. The two lead characters, Eska and Flint, both grow and develop throughout the story; Eska, as she learns that friendship can be an incredibly powerful weapon and Flint, as he gradually realises that he must change many of his long established views about the other tribes of the kingdom. The portrayal of Flint’s deep love for his sister Blu, who has learning difficulties, is one of the highlights of the book, as is the depiction of the vast and majestic wilderness in which the story takes place. For children who have enjoyed the Narnia stories or the Chronicles of

Books for Keeps No.228 January 2018 25

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