BfK 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued

wrong, and that while nothing is going to last forever, one can keep beauty in one’s heart where it will never fade. The illustrations are quite, quite lovely and delicate, but there is one problem. Children will probably need some adult supervision in getting the most out of the book. I had to read it several times before ‘twigging’ to the fact that Stanley’s magnificent web at the end was full of representations of all the things he had collected, and that the heart in the centre represents his heart in which his treasures lie. It’s a great philosophy, and after a first read when children will need help, it will prove a treasure indeed to the thoughtful child who will be absorbed by the pictures and the ideas presented. ES

Charlie’s Magical Carnival HHHH

Marit Tornqvist, Floris Books, 32pp, 9781782504603, £10.99 hbk

It is Carnival time in Charlie’s town and he cannot wait to join in the fun. While Mama searches for Charlie’s red balloon and party hat he imagines all the sights and wonders in store. In the following pages the real carnival and the magical carnival of Charlie’s imagination merge and blur in a succession

of incredibly detailed

illustrations that celebrate the power of a child’s imaginative creativity and sense of wonder and joy. Marit Tornqvist is an award-winning

illustrator, born in Sweden and based in The Netherlands, and this picture book, translated from the


Dutch, showcases her gouache and acrylic paintings, which are crammed full of detail and visual humour. The fold-out pages add to the sense of wonder and expand Charlie’s imaginary world. Child readers will love poring over all the quirky and witty details and will relish the fact that Charlie is in control of this world and is able to reassure his mother and guide her through it. This vibrant, translated

picture book will give

children the satisfying experience of exploring an intriguing and entrancing visual landscape. SR

Teacup House Meet the Twitches


Hayley Scott illus Pippa Curnick, Usborne, 128pp, 978-1474928120, £5.99 pbk

Secret, miniature worlds within worlds are a popular theme in children’s literature, from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Racketty-Packetty House to The Borrowers. Hayley Scott creates a fresh, contemporary adventure for little characters in her new series, Teacup House. Stevie and her mum are moving from their home at the top of a city tower block to a cottage in the country. Though it will mean they live closer to Stevie’s dad, she’s not happy to be leaving her old room, school and

friends. Just before they leave Stevie’s Nanny Blue arrives with a special present: a teacup house with eight windows, a front and back door, sitting neatly in a little saucer that is also a garden. There’s a bag of furniture too and another with the Teacup House inhabitants, the Twitches, a family of tiny, toy rabbits. When she first sees them, Stevie feels for a moment that there is magic in the air. As the moving van pulls up to the

house, Stevie accidentally drops the daddy Twitch in the garden. From here the Twitches take up the story. When mother rabbit Bo and her children Silver and Fig realise that daddy Gabriel is missing, Silver launches a daring rescue attempt, which requires fashioning a parachute out of sweet wrappers, pins and tissue paper. An exciting adventure unfolds amongst the long grass of the garden before the family are reunited to be tucked into their bed by Stevie, who is also feeling settled in her new home. Stevie is quick enough to realise

that her grandma’s present is meant to make her happy about the move, and the story provides both excitement and reassurance of all kinds to readers, a chance for them to experience the upset of separation for example, before a happy reunion; Silver is calm and practical under pressure as she bravely rescues her dad. The series should be a big hit with

young readers and Pippa Curnick’s colour

illustrations are

gorgeous. LS Nimesh the Adventurer


Ranjit Singh, ill. Mehrdokht Amini, Lantana Publishing, 32pp, 978-1-9113-7324-7, £11.99 hbk

Debut author Ranjit Singh recognises the

powerful imaginations that

most young children have while at the same time acknowledging that sadly, most adults seem to lose that facility and so the unnamed, unseen individual who accompanies the child protagonist on his journey sees only ordinary everyday things. That young Nimesh has a fertile

22 Books for Keeps No.229 March 2018 absolutely

imagination is evident from the start of this story. When we first meet the boy he’s about to bid his friends farewell, leave his classroom, or rather not his classroom but an ancient cave so he tells us, and walk home from school. It’s a walk that takes him past a slumbering dragon, down a corridor that becomes a shark-filled ocean and then out through the door and into the road. Even there Nimesh’s imaginings

are still in full flow: crossing the road leads to a sleigh ride over frozen ground to the North Pole


somehow manages to terminate at the palace of a maharajah guarded by an acrobatic chowkidar. Thereafter the pastry shop morphs

into a pirate ship, and in the park he finds a princess. Finally, as he reaches his front

door, Nimesh’s inquisitor appears to have fallen in step with his flights of fancy asking, ‘Is it a cave full of gold? Or an emperor’s castle?’ But now, the table are turned, ‘This is home.’ he states as his parents greet him fondly. Nimesh’s creative ideas triggered

are seemingly by cues in

Mehrdokht Amini’s arresting, richly detailed

illustrations, which make

use of photomontage and collage as well as paint and crayon. Thus, the North Pole dog sledge is inspired by a woman walking a trio of dogs past a ski shop and the pirate ship is conjured up from a cake displayed in a pastry shop window. This is surely a book to help unleash imaginative thinking in its readers. JB

The Waggiest Tails HHHH

Brian Moses and Roger Stevens ill. Ed Boxall, Otter-Barry Books, 96pp 978-1-91095-989-3, £6.99 pbk

This selection of poems about dogs, all ‘written by dogs with help’ of the two poets, giving a dog’s view of life is fun to read,

but also perceptive

and sometimes moving. These two poets have been writing and performing for a long time, and individually and in collaboration their poems and workshops are enjoyed by thousands of children. Both are National Poetry Day ambassadors: Brian Moses is Reading Champion for the National Literacy Trust and Co- Director of the Able Writers’ Scheme, which he founded in 2002. Roger Stevens started the Poetry Archive, where children send in their poems, and is the author of Off By Heart, encouraging children to learn poems. The joy of being a dog is celebrated

in Running with the pack: “And out we leap/we’re running and bouncing and barking and laughing…” but some dogs are not so happy: the dog who has to follow her owner running through Central Park resents not having time to sniff about and greet dog friends. Another dog is almost within reach of a rabbit in the brambles, though the human is calling and his voice is cross – just a few minutes more… In Call me Lucky one dog feels very lucky because the human is with her

all the time, and shares his food with her. They sleep on the street together, and we realise what their situation is. Then there is Rescue Dog who hopes his new owner will “realise/ why my eyes are filled with fear. Tell me again/that you understand/why I flinch when you come near.” This dog needs time, and to “believe that you’re someone who really will care”. There is Divorce dog – the third dog who is accused of being the last straw – some of these concepts are hard, which is why the older age range is suggested for independent reading, though a teacher could use some of the poems easily with younger children. Call me yappy, The door was open, Hot dog and A little bit of this, about being

proud to be a mongrel,

are suitable for any child. The dog in The Dog Show who watches all the prize-winners sadly and is finally recognised for having The Waggiest Tail is delightful, and the last poem, Stick is just brilliant: “It might seem obvious to you humans/but it puzzles me every day. If you want the stick so badly/why do you throw it away?” Ed Boxall’s cartoons of mostly scruffy dogs of all shapes and sizes are just perfect for this book. Enjoy! DB

The Red Dread HHHH

Tom Morgan-Jones, The Bucket List, 9781911370055, £6.00 pbk

The cartoon-style animals of Tom Morgan-Jones’ funny picture book, with their bold outlines, bright colours and expressive eyes, are set against a dark, cave-like background of inky lines where the “thump thump” sound of the approaching “Red

fills them all with fear. Group panic ensues until Chicken realises that the thumping is actually the sound of his own terrified heartbeats. This is a highly entertaining picture book with great visual impact.


growing tension, and the implied messages about and

group hysteria, are colour and

by humour. The illustrations bold

complement the minimal text, which is full of onomatopoeia and repetition and is presented clearly in a bold black lettering contained in speech bubbles. This story would read aloud well,

with excellent opportunities for sound effects,

expected from a picture book imprint of

Barrington Stoke,

and, as would be the


chosen text and visual presentation would give confidence, and a sense of satisfaction and fun, to children reading the book themselves. SR

My Worst Book Ever HHHH

Allan Ahlberg, ill. Bruce Ingman, Thames and Hudson, 64pp, 978-0-5006-5090-5, £10.95, hbk

This latest collaboration between

author and illustrator is a playful guide to creating a picture book, written as if a disgruntled author is

unfounded fears offset are

brimming with energy, expression and



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