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reviews


follow his amazing adventures, which are without text. He is clearly shown travelling through snowy landscapes, riding with a narwhale, and landing aboard a pirate ship, and being made to walk the plank. In resolution when he returns to Maggie, he tells her how exciting his adventures have been, swept up by the wind, and he wants to do them all over again! Maggie expresses caution, but this time, Jeremy shouts, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’. A tale in which a child faces his fears, with much of the emotion as well as action told in the illustrations. The pictures have details to explore as the tale develops, thereby enhancing the story. There is a QR to be scanned on the inside cover for a free audio reading, which is also enticing. Windy days need to be experienced and fears need to be faced. GB


While You’re Sleeping 


Mick Jackson, ill. John Broadley, Pavilion Books, 40pp, 978 1 8436 5465 0, £12.99 hbk


This collaboration brings together Booker Prize shortlisted author Mick Jackson and John Broadley who is also well known for his adult books, in   telling and showing children what countless humans and animals are busy doing while they themselves are snuggled up fast asleep. Think how horrid it would be to get


        it bestrewn with rubbish, or to walk along the street to school and then to come into a classroom or a shop and discover what it would be like had not the cleaners been hard at work. There are also lots of lorry drivers delivering food and other goods driving through the dark nights with fresh supplies of merchandise for the shops to sell,            ambulance crews at the ready to answer emergency calls. Then there are bakers cooking and shops whose staff take over for a shift that allows them to provide a 24 hour service, dedicated teams of hospital doctors, nurses and others; as well as crews of ships and smaller craft out on long voyages. There’s a plethora of animal activity


too, in the form of foraging foxes, owls, hares and bats. Youngsters are also reminded that while they’re a-bed, in other parts of the world there will be boys and girls in their classrooms or engaging in sports, whose days will end when the sleepers wake up. The author’s voice is direct and


friendly, and the book reads aloud very well. John Broadley’s artwork is incredible: scenes mesmerizingly alive with texture and detail and with soft echoes of Eric Ravilious, interspersed with comic-book style illustrations. JB


Junior continued Dog Gone





Rob Biddulph, Harper Collins Children’s Books, 32pp, 978 0 0083 1792 8, £12.99 hbk


Rob Biddulph brings his own brand of zany humour to this totally captivating tale of doggy delight, in the form of Edward Pugglesworth. Said pooch resides with his loyal pet human (kept upstairs) in a rather grand residence close to a park. Therein every morning Edward P (Teddy for short) rouses his human and takes him for a walk in that park. One momentous autumnal morning while playing ball the rain starts to fall and it seems like time to head home. Things go somewhat awry however as giving chase to a pair of acorn- dropping squirrels to return their lost items, Teddy loses Dave. A search yields nothing in the places they’d passed and eventually Teddy reaches the scary shed wherein dwells a truly terrible troll. Or does he? Told in rhyming couplets with Teddy as narrator, and through Rob’s droll illustrations, this warm-hearted tale will assuredly captivate both young listeners and adult sharers, especially the dog-loving kind who will revel in the mock-scary scenes and the sight of Dave being walked by his pooch. I envisage it becoming a much requested storytime favourite both at home and in the classroom. Make sure you allow time for your audience to peruse the pictures for every one of them is packed with wonderful details to giggle at. JB


Last: the story of a white rhino 


Nicola Davies, ill. Nicola Davies, Tiny Owl 32pp, 978-1-910328-48-4, £7.99 pbk


Nicola Davies is well-known as an author, many of her books being about nature or the environment, but here she illustrates her own book as well, and this reviewer certainly hopes that she will continue illustrating her own books. Last tells the story of Sudan, the last male Northern white rhino, from his own point of view, though he is not named in the story. He loves being  mother, and the smell of the rain, but then one day she lies very still (we see the poacher and his gun, with her horn on the ground) and he is put in a box and taken far away. The colour palette now turns to grey as Sudan paces in his cage in a zoo. He is miserable, not  smells ‘empty’. Eventually he is put in a box again, and taken back to a land he recognizes, we return to full colour        perhaps he is not the last after all. Unfortunately, those who have


heard of Sudan will know that he doesn’t father any baby rhinos, and he died in 2018, so, on the entire planet, there were only 2 females, one of which died recently. His sperm may be used in the future with a


Southern White Rhino, but we have to realise that there will be other ‘last’ creatures if we are not more careful. The message is made clear at the end of the book, in Nicola Davies’ notes. Her illustrative style is interesting


 background colour, are placed on some of the buildings and animals,  in a close-up of his face, and the text goes in different ways on his horn and on his body, with more on the building behind a young girl in a yellow raincoat who is shown watching him. (The girl reappears as the story progresses,        binoculars as he happily explores his old home again.) The writing is in different languages, and she explains at the front of the book that it may be the words of Martin Luther King, Chief Seattle or Paul Hawken. This is to contrast the bleakness of advertising with inspirational words: she quotes Paul Hawken on planet-saving, ‘Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done’. Young readers, though, may not even notice the words, and the story works without this extra level of meaning. There is also much to talk about here, about captivity, conservation and preservation, and this could be useful in the classroom setting as well as in the library. DB


My Shadow is Pink 


Scott Stuart, Larrikin House, 32pp, 978 0 6487287 6 4, £6.99 pbk


This book that teaches children how to be themselves, no matter what that ‘self’ may be, uses shadows to explain the concept. The little boy in the story has realised that all the males in his family have blue shadows, strong and manly, but his own shadow is pink: ‘My shadow loves ponies and books and pink toys, princesses, fairies, and things not for boys.’ He loves and looks up to his Dad, and his Dad loves him very much, but sometimes worries too. ‘It’s just a phase,’ Dad says. But the little boy knows it isn’t. He’s not like the others in his family; he’s different. He must start school, and this worries him, but he is determined to dress like his shadow dresses and         is really worried now, and when the lad gets to school, the other children are shocked at the sight of a boy in a dress. He runs home in distress, and  is important to his son. So… butch Dad puts on a dress too (he has his own secret interest evidently) and shows the boy pictures of people in their family who have interests outside their      man who loves paintings and fashion, and a pink-shadowed girl who is into cars and engines in a big way. The boy’s pink shadow, though, is his very being, and he must learn to love it and live with it and go back to school proud of his different-ness. Which he  


that people can live happily in their own shadow and also share interests that are not usually part of that shadow, and the other that there are those whose shadows may never match the gender assigned to them, and that is  and the pictures fun and right for the story. I do feel, however, that the dual themes could be a little confusing as the main character has such a fully pink shadow. A good addition, though, to this very topical subject. ES


Who’s Your Real Mum? 


Bernadette Green, ill. Anna Zobel, Scribble Books, 32pp, 978 1 925849 49 3, £11.99 hbk


Elvi has two mums, and her best friend, Nicholas, wants to know which one is her real mum. Elvi is a clever lass, and       question without going against her solid knowledge that both her mums are real. He persists in his questions, though: ‘Only the one who had you in her tummy can be your real mum’, he says. Elvi then reverts to her good imagination. Her real mum is the one who can ‘pull a car with her teeth…who is a pirate…who crochets hammocks for polar bears…’ and so it goes while Nicholas becomes more and more fed up while Elvi is clearly       take the question seriously, though, and her answer is quite perfect. Her real mum is the one who gives her cuddles when she’s frightened, the one who tucks her up in bed, and the one who gives her kisses at bedtime. Nicholas is perturbed: surely they both do those things? And Elvi gives the perfect answer: ‘Exactly’! Glowing illustrations in gold and rust and shades of orange and brown (this is a mixed race family) are warm and inviting, and the expressions on the children’s faces are a joy. This  to children’s understanding of families who are perhaps different from their own but who share the love that all families do. Quite outstanding. ES


Pirate Stew 


Neil Gaiman, ill. Chris Riddell, Bloomsbury, 40pp, 978 1 5266 1472 8, £12.99, hbk


When Mum and Dad go out for the evening, they leave their two children with a very


surprising and rather


alarming babysitter; Long John McRon, a pirate cook complete with bluebeard, hook and wooden leg. The children are worried by this and even more dismayed when a whole pirate crew turns up at the door as well. Long John is determined to honour his promise to feed the children and when a search of the fridge proves uninspiring, he decides they should make their specialty, pirate stew. This is where the book really takes off with a truly fabulous collection of ingredients from half a sack of gold doubloons to the locks from Davy Jones locker, all seasoned with mermaid’s tears. Cooking is accompanied with a wonderful chorus of “Pirate stew, pirate stew, eat it and you won’t be blue, you


Books for Keeps No.245 November 2020 25


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