BfK 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued

a bit disappointed?) Peanut is the perfect side-kick: he gets his own little cloak, and they go off to have adventures together, twice as super, but “it’s no big deal”. The art work, in pencils and watercolour, is distinctive.


Stewart is an experienced illustrator, this is only her second picture book as an author, so we can hope for more to come. DB

Space Tortoise HHHHH

Ross Montgomery, illus David Litchfield, Faber and Faber, 978-0-5713-3105-5, £6.99 pbk

I thoroughly enjoyed The Building Boy, the first book that Ross Montgomery and David Litchfield created together, so was genuinely excited to learn about

their second

Space Tortoise. I’m delighted that it exceeded my high expectations. It tells the story of a tortoise who

lives by himself in an empty and abandoned park. He’s content enough with his life, which is safe, secure and cosy, but he increasingly misses the company of others. One evening, as he gazes up at the sky, he comes to the conclusion that the twinkling stars are all candles which are being lit every night by the other animals. The tortoise decides that he wants to join them and so sets off on a journey across the park, in the direction of what appears to be a space rocket. When he arrives at his destination, he meets a friendly mouse who explains that things aren’t quite as simple as they first appear and that perhaps he should look closer to home for companionship. The slightly naïve tortoise is endearing character with an


optimistic view of the world and young children will find it easy to empathise with him. His journey reinforces the important message that good friends are often not as far away as we sometimes believe. The use of figurative language throughout the story (the desert stretched far into the horizon, silent as a whisper…) complements the artwork beautifully. David Litchfield’s distinctive style makes it visually stunning, the contrast between light and dark being particularly

outstanding. A large

number of the pictures are double- page spreads, with so much for the reader to discover. Space Tortoise is a simple, reassuring

friendship and the importance

story about loneliness, of

being brave enough to explore our world. It would be an excellent choice of text to introduce such topics in a Key Stage One classroom. I sincerely hope that Ross and David have plans to work together again in the future, as it’s clearly an extremely successful combination. JBid

Everything You Need for a Treehouse


Carter Higgins, ill. Emily Hughes, Chronicle Books, 32pp, 978 1 4521 4255 5, £12.99 hbk

‘Everything you need for a treehouse starts with time and looking up and imagining a home of

rafters in wrangled, gnarled bark.’ Who can resist

the lure

timber and of

childhood enchantment and playing outdoors revelling in the natural world embodied in this unusual offering from Higgins and Hughes. The text is a lyrical telling of where said treehouse might be situated: will it stand alone or be located somewhere in a forest? Other

vital elements are timber, collaboration,

tools, ropes, boxes and crucially, imagination. Emily Hughes illustrations are full

of whimsy and an absolute delight. You’ll need time to spend poring over every spread. I particularly love this notion of bookshelves built into the construction. Every one of the magical spaces

created in this book is a celebration of creativity and collaboration, while the final spread brings readers right back down to earth again with a view of small children in a backyard with an oak seedling for as the author said at the outset, ‘Everything you need … starts with time.’ From endpaper

to endpaper, a

dream of a book that will surely bring out the wild child in all of us. JB

Forever or a Day HHHH

Sarah Jacoby, Chronicle Books, 32pp. 978 1 4521 6463 2, £12.99 hbk

Sarah Jacoby’s meditation on time brought to mind the opening lines of one of my favourite poets, T.S. Eliot’s Burnt Norton, ‘Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future, /And time future contained in time past. ‘ Present time in Jacoby’s narrative

is the dawning of a day in a city watched one assumes by the child we see gazing through a window and through whose eyes we then view scenes of early morning family life with its changes in tempo before mother, father and child with cases finally packed join the commuters – some rushing, others unhurried - at the railway station. Jacoby’s illustrations somehow

freeze time making it ever present –be that during the train journey with that hypnotic ‘ba-dum, dum’; during the car ride

ba- to visit

grandparents in the countryside; or sitting around the blazing campfire surrounded by darkness. Throughout, the narrative causes

the reader to consider the passage of time, “Is this what forever feels like?” asks the small boy on the train; and in the forest clearing, beside the tent,

24 Books for Keeps No.230 May 2018

‘Perhaps it is a ghost – it can come and go and you never even notice it was there.’ ‘You cannot hold it … We’ve only

got what we’ve got’ is the precursor to the return train journey – a night train back to the city with its softly glowing lights and a final ‘I love the time I have with you.’ said back in the family home. Simply asked, the author poses

profound questions and much of this is done through her beautiful watercolour and pastel scenes. One such

question, prompted by the

final illustration of parents and child beside a tent, with a toy train and track is ‘did the family actually go anywhere?’ This is most definitely a book to

savour, to ponder over and to discuss. It’s certainly one that shows just how important it is to be IN the moment. I’ve read it several times each time with new questions and new meanings emerging. JB


Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet , Macmillan, 24pp, 978-1509827435, £11.99 hbk

This book really made me laugh. It has a kind of ‘in your face front cover’ with a jubilant cake on the front and simply titled Cake you really want to read it. It’s a multi layered

book as

everyone in the family will enjoy it- from little ones with the bold pictures to grown-ups probably making some predictions before it’s even started as to what might happen. Cake has been invited to a party

and isn’t sure what adornment to wrap around himself.

After lovely

pages illustrating deliberations Cake plumps for the simple Birthday Cake ‘look’. He is very excited when he gets there but things begin to look a little bit more sinister for Cake as Cake realises that his future might not be very secure at the end of the party. Luckily Cake has some kind and heroic ‘foodie friends’ who set up a Cake escape. The pictures are bold, colourful and

humorous with a simple font making the short sentences easy to read. It would be a grand book for sharing and a lovely book for a Foodie topic with KS1. The comedy cake caper sits really well with its previous book ‘Supertato’ - all children will have had experience of both these food items so you can’t go wrong with a funny book about this sweet treat! SG

Thinker My Puppy Poet and Me HHHH

Eloise Greenfield, ill. Ehsan Abdollahi, Tiny Owl, 32pp, 978 1 910328 33 0, £9.99 hbk

Eloise Greenfield, ill. Ehsan Abdollahi, Tiny Owl, 32pp, 978 1 910328 33 0, £9.99 hbk

In this unusual picture book, we meet Thinker, a small black and white dog who belongs to Jace. Both are

members of a black family consisting of mum, dad, and sister Kimmy, but what makes this book of poems so unusual is that Thinker can talk, but his talking only consists of reciting his own poems. Jace is a poet too, and together they write all sorts of happy poems about the family, about school, about Jace’s sister Kimmy, and some that

are philosophical too,


life in general and why things are as they are. The rhyming is unusual – some free verse, but with lots of internal rhymes, and they dance with rhythm and meaning. One is a haiku, and another is a rap. The book is a joyful story, and the highly engaging illustrations – collages, created with handmade and hand-coloured paper – are richly evocative. The publisher and both the author and illustrator are interested in portrayals of black culture and family life,

and Ms

Greenfield has been winning awards in the US for her children’s books for many years. This is her first in the UK. When Jace takes Thinker to school for pet day, he is a bit nervous that Thinker might talk, but when he does – because he can’t keep the poem inside himself any longer – the whole class and all the pets in it erupt with laughter and pleasure. We, too, will erupt with pleasure when reading this delightful book! ES

Grandmas from Mars HHHH

Michelle Robinson, ill. Fred Blunt, Bloomsbury, 32pp, 9781408888766, £6.99 pbk

What a crazily silly book. It’s a great idea and all grannies and grandads should read it pre-prepared - children too just in case their grannies and grandads are behaving strangely! The story is about aliens who because they wish to be listened to, beam themselves

into grannies. Having

spied on humans they know that children heed their grannies. There is lots of humour in what happens next as children start to become suspicious about the grannies’ very weird

behaviour. Eventually the

aliens aka ‘grannies’ begin to take over- ‘The town’s at the mercy of little green grans.....’- and the


have to save the day. This is a fun independent read

or great to read aloud together, its rhyming text gives extra clues. Sketchy illustrations have a fifties feel and give the pages lots of movement. It’s a book that will make you laugh

out loud....definitely one for everybody as all those little layers (from grannies being obeyed to the aliens finding it disgusting when the children try to kiss them) will appeal to different ages. SG

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