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BfK Junior The Little War Cat 


Hiba Noor Khan, ill. Laura Chamberlain, Macmillan Children’s Books, 32pp, 978 1 5290 3213 0, £12.99 hbk


Coming to England 


Floella Benjamin, ill. Diane Ewen, Macmillan Children’s Books, 24pp, 978 1 5290 0941 5, £12.99, hbk


     personal story as a child of the Windrush generation in 1997. This picturebook edition brings her experiences to a younger audience. A happy childhood in Trinidad, within a big and close family is shown in the early pages of the book. Trinidad’s links to England through the British Empire, leading to the decision of many including Floella’s father, to leave for a new life in England are suggested through interesting details. For example, the school day starts with the national anthem and Floella dreams of meeting the Queen. It must have been very upsetting when her mother and younger brother and sister followed her father to England too, though why her aunt, charged with looking after Floella and the remaining siblings is described as ‘wicked’ is left unexplained. Details such as dancing under the huge raindrops in the wet       voyage bring the story to life. When Floella reaches England the family is reunited. The experience is chilly however and not only in terms of the weather; she experiences racism when she starts school. Vibrant illustrations evoke the landscape and semi tropical climate of Trinidad beginning with the wonderful end papers and they add warmth and colour throughout the book. This picturebook provides an insight into the experience of the Windrush generation showing the ups and downs of immigration and trying to forge a new life. It provides an accessible opportunity to talk about the reasons for migration, attitudes to immigrants and racism with young children. Overall, there is a message of hope and optimism as Floella gradually makes friends, her family  and she eventually realises her early ambition to meet the Queen! SMc


Inspired by the actions of a real person, the ‘cat man of Aleppo’ Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, who set up a cat sanctuary after his family left the city for safety, Hiba Noor Khan has written her own version of events about the man and the place that became a haven of hope and love not only for felines but also the  to play and to work therein. The story starts with a little grey cat contentedly residing in Aleppo, but then came the catastrophic war bringing changes such as the tramping of humans in boots and hunger for the cat population, all of which except the little grey cat, seem to disappear, leaving her not only in need of food, but lonely and frightened.


Time passes, the little cat remains in the shadows until one day a       one speaking softly and with kind words. Following the man through the streets with signs of destruction everywhere, till near the point of exhaustion, she sees something       calm with food, moggy friends and the kindness of human touch. Fully restored the following morning, the thankful little cat discovers that there’s more than one way to show thankfulness and so she does … Both the author’s words and Laura Chamberlain’s illustrations, show the transformational power of kindness and love, and how warmth and acts of altruism can help others to transcend the worst of times. JB


The Tindims of Rubbish Island 


Sally Gardner, ill. Lydia Corry, Zephyr Books, 136pp, 9781838935672, £6.99 pbk


Author Sally Gardner has joined up with her illustrator daughter Lydia Corry to create a new series about the Tindims, tiny Borrower-like beings who live on an island built entirely from rubbish discarded by humans,         series introduces readers to Skittle, one of the young Tindims, her furry pet Pinch, and assorted quirky inhabitants of Rubbish Island, from Captain Spoons and Admiral Bonnet to Granny Gull, Barnacle Bow, Brew, Mug, Jug and Baby Cup. The Tindims’ motto is ‘Rubbish today is treasure tomorrow’ and they are resourceful and inventive recyclers. Even the Tindims must admit though that there are just too many plastic bottles. The themes of conservation and


the environment are timely and child readers will probably have plenty of ideas of their own about protecting


sea life and recycling all the waste found by the Tindims. The characters are eccentric and endearing and all the inhabitants and world of Rubbish Island are skilfully brought to life in the lively, humorous, and detailed illustrations. The chapters are short, the font is dyslexia friendly, there are pictures on every page and the series should appeal to newly independent and eco-conscious young readers. SR


It’s Only Stanley 


Jon Agee, Scallywag Press, 32pp, 978 1 912650 46 0, £12.99 hbk


It’s bedtime and the Wimbledons are trying to sleep, but it’s noisy in the house tonight and poor old Dad has to investigate every disturbance. Whatever is Stanley the dog up to? He wakes Mum by howling at the        the basement, hammering the oil tank. A buzzing noise that’s irritating Wanda is traced to Stanley, who’s busy with the old TV, and the smell that’s sickening Willie turns out to       the time baby Wylie alerts them to splashing (Stanley’s clearing the bathroom drain) the whole family is awake. And that’s when a huge    Stanley’s in the attic, and they’re heading for the MOON…. For a couple of spreads, Stanley’s


behaviour seems fairly standard for a  moon. Finding him hammering the boiler is a step into different territory: one that Walter Wimbledon fails to grasp. In that page-turn, the course of the book is set as Stanley’s determination and resourcefulness are displayed for all (except the Wimbledons) to see…. and the cause of all this industry? A pink Moon-poodle… It seems that Stanley is in  page, we want to read again to spot the clues. The house always did look rather tall and thin! And doesn’t that fuzzy image on the old TV look poodle-shaped? Jon Agee’s rhyming text sets a brisk pace in this immensely enjoyable picturebook, but it’s the interaction between words and pictures (and deadpan humour) that really makes this book sing. Bold cartoon-style lines, dramatic


layouts and expressive characters carry


us, helter-skelter, through the action, but there are gentler pleasures, too. Agee’s subdued palette evokes an atmosphere of reluctant night-time wakefulness that will be familiar to many readers, and Stanley’s disregard for conventional pet behaviour is quietly hilarious. And


watch out for the silent cat! CFH An Engineer Like Me 


Dr Shini Somara with Catherine Coe, ill. Nadja Sarell, Hachette childrens, 32pp, 9781783448302, £12.99 hbk


A book that should be on every shelf in school to inspire young engineers whatever gender. Having said that It’s an inspiring book for encouraging more women into STEM and provides  about the female engineers. It’s a cleverly constructed layout


with wonderful lettering all along the engineer theme. Nadja’s colourful, energetic illustrations are just right. I love the way they are drawn from different viewpoints as Zara (who is curious about everything) and her gran venture out for their local walk. There are different fonts throughout which adds extra pizazz. The layout is a mixture of across double pages and some single pages with text across the whole picture in smaller sections which make it easily readable. It’s an excellent look at engineering


everywhere because Zara’s day to day life shows us that there are examples at most points in our everyday lives. From the point where Zara is in her room and Gran makes a great paper aeroplane to going down in the lift, to going up on an escalator and seeing a plane take off into the sky. Explanations about what constitutes engineering are really clear and child appropriate-using Zara’s voice to synthesise what Gran has said is a clever way of reinforcing that. It’s a smashing book to pick up and peruse again and again and there’s a nice challenge at the end of the book you could take up too. SG


Jeremy Worried about the Wind





Pamela Butchart, ill. Kate Hindley, Nosy Crow, 32pp, 978 1 78800 775 7 £6-99, pbk


               with the small boy hanging horizontally, desperately onto a lamp post, it invites exploration of the story.


Jeremy is a


worrier, and his list of unlikely worries is bizarre! He worries about shoe-eating worms, runaway dinosaurs, burnt toast, brown spotty bananas and he is very worried about evil squirrels! But highest of all on his list is the wind. On meeting Maggie who isn’t scared of anything, a friendship develops where Jeremy tries to ensure Maggie will not fall prey to any of the worries on his list, especially those associated with the wind. ‘Come on! What’s the worst that could happen?’ she cries as she pelts out of doors one windy day. But Jeremy is indeed caught by the wind and swept skyward. Three double spreads then


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