reviews 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued

she doesn’t: instead, she attempts to put things back as they were and in so doing, discovers that she’s able to move around with the kiosk in situ. Thus begins a completely new

life. First Olga decides to take a walk and during her perambulations she encounters a man with a crazy dog that’s just a tad too enthusiastic at meeting her. The creature’s delight precipitates a fall and Olga, kiosk and all go tumbling over the railings and into the river. Several days later, with her mobile

home she arrives at the coast and there she establishes herself once more, reaping the benefits of life at the seaside; indeed, it’s from the beach that she spends every evening watching ‘the sun set … splendidly.’ Whether it’s considered as a tale

of stepping out of your comfort zone and going with the flow, destiny, luck, or karma, Anete Melece

shows a

woman who makes the best of life. Her watercolour illustrations, presented from a variety of perspectives work cleverly in tandem with the text, allowing the reader to do some of the interpretation. (There’s a QR code inside the book allows readers


animation). JB Snow Ghost


Tony Mitton, ill. Diana Mayo, Bloomsbury, 32pp, 78 1 4088 7663 3, £12.99 hbk

This is a timely seasonal book. Two small children are depicted on the cover, gazing up at the winter skies as snowflakes gently tumble down upon them. Already as readers we are included in their joy of the moment. As the tale begins, the landscape is vast…and the text is small, giving even more space for the entry of the Snow Ghost. Mitton’s rhyming prose is just magical. He holds us in a pause, with his words of simplicity and precision as we enter this wintery world where the Snow Ghost searches for a place to settle and feel at home. Everywhere seems cold and lonely to her, and she feels unwelcome wherever she pauses. ‘But how to find rest, where the chilly winds blow and endlessly murmur BE OFF WITH YOU----- GO!’ She flies on till she spies a small country farm, high on the moors, where two children are whooping and shouting with joy as they play in the tumbling snow. A beautiful expression on the face of the girl captures us, as the Snow Ghost swoops down with a swish and a swirl, to join in with their games. Here it is making angel wings flat on their backs, a game familiar to many children who have experienced lasting snow. Daylight fades, and as they are called indoors, the children, with their spotty dog, turn and wave to Snow Ghost. She has found that for which she searched. As she settles down on the roof of the farmhouse she knows she is home. Her world was now steady and right. As with all

Together HHHHH

Charles Fuge, Hodder Children’s Books, 32pp, 978 1 444 94812 7, £12.99, hbk

A startlingly cold cover introduces

us to two very friendly looking polar bears. There is a deep intelligence in their eyes as they hold our gaze. With the title in deep silver, the whole cover is spotted with stars and a crescent moon hangs in the sky. The endpapers are delightful, demanding a good search before entering the story. Each of the ten vignettes shows an adult bear with a cub, embarking on all sorts of activities… together. From the

beginning, the gentle

rhyming text persuades us readers that here is safety, despite the vast Arctic sky, the ice-bound lands that seem to go on and on for ever. As the pair wander… and wonder, we share their delight in the warmth of the sun, which creates beautiful statuesque images as icebergs drip. Night -time brings its own pleasures, gazing at the stars, talking of Pluto, Venus and Mars. ‘Together we laugh and we sing and we play… enjoying togetherness every day!’ little


Finally, big bear assures they will never


always be together. Whilst this (we know) may well not be the case, the reassurance is a beautiful moment between the two characters. Every page is full to the brim with Fuge’s illustrations, showing kindness, joy, companionship, love, a wonder at their world, and the thrill of togetherness. Awe and WONDER!! After this year of unprecedented difficulties for so

to watch the

of Mitton’s work, the text reads well aloud, and moves the story along at a pace suitable to the mood of that particular page. The colour palette throughout is cold; icy blues, greens and greys covering each spread, with snow crystals bouncing about the skies as the Snow Ghost scatters them in her wake. A book to enjoy around a fire, after an hour or so playing games out in the snow? A study of the endpapers will reveal a stylized

depiction of

very many families all over the world, where many folk have been unable to see their loved ones, unable to share the reality of a real hug and laughter, togetherness, this book strikes such a welcome note. The sharing of books

with children can surely never have been of such importance, able as it is to affect the attitudes and emotions and well-beings of the sharers. Happy reading. GB

8 – 10 Junior/Middle Count on Me HHHH mistletoe,

a seasonal plant with mystical, historical significance. The leaves are veined in many different ways, some bearing the ripened berries, covered in hoar frost. All in all, a delight. GB

Miguel Tanco, Tate Publishing, 48pp, 978 18497 6734 7, £11.99 hbk

The little girl narrator of this story belongs to a passionate family: her father’s passion is painting; her mother is an avid entomologist and her brother is a lover of music. As yet though the girl hasn’t identified a passion of her own so she sets about so doing. School presents many possibilities: there are various sports, music and dance, cooking for instance but none of these fires her enthusiasm. Then comes a surprise revelation

– during an art lesson – no it’s not painting but maths that this girl truly loves. She sees maths and mathematical possibilities everywhere in everyday life be they numerical, or related to shape, patterns, problem solving, sets or trajectory Through

a series of scenes

showing such places as the park, the playground (geometric patterns), the lakeside

(concentric circles), block

play, the family dining table, a balcony (a paper aeroplane’s trajectory) and an art

gallery, Tanco reveals how

exciting to the child is this world when viewed through a mathematical lens. Any new vocabulary is easily by the reader when


presented in this visual manner – stone skipping across the lake results in the formation of concentric circles on the water’s surface while there’s an abundance of fractals especially in nature. This latter observation is revealed in the little girl’s personal maths journal – a kind of visual glossary – at the end of the story wherein she records her findings relating to the various mathematical concepts covered in her narration. I was anything but

a maths

enthusiast as a child, but perhaps things might have been different if I’d been exposed to this exciting book at the age of its protagonist. JB

Fox: A Circle of Life Story HHHHH

Isabel Thomas, ill. Daniel Igneus, Bloomsbury, 48pp, 978 1 5266 0077 6, £12.99, hbk

The book opens with a mother and two young children in a forest listening to the signs of life around them. Then our focus switches to a fox, out hunting, we follow her back to her den where three hungry cubs are waiting. We bear witness as the cubs grow bigger and stronger and learn to hunt. One day fox is hit by a car and she dies but we are shown how

nature responds to this event, as fox decomposes new plant and animal life emerges from the particles which made her. Although the fate of fox’s three cubs is not described in the text they can reassuringly be spotted in the back of several spreads as they develop independence. Reflecting the cyclical theme, the book ends where it begins with the small family in the forest listening for signs of life. This is a beautiful picturebook, the

illustrations are rich and colourful, the depiction of the playful young cubs is particularly appealing. The text is lyrically written and gentle, some pages invite whispering as we tiptoe into fox’s world and accompany her hunting. The back of the book contains information about the cycle of life illustrating that death, and decomposition are important parts of this. This book could reassure children

who have lost a pet or seen a dead animal and help children understand that death is central to the cycle of life. Although the text is simple the themes and information contained in the book suggest this is a book for older children. Another beautiful picturebook from the creators of the highly successful Moth: A story of Evolution. SMc

Monster Max and the Bobble Hat of Forgetting


Robin Bennett, ill. Tom Tinn- Disbury, Firefly, 188pp, 9781913102333, £5.99 pbk

In this action adventure for children, Max has to balance the everyday activities of any normal 9-year-old with the responsibility of being able to turn into a huge, hairy monster every time he burps. Max has impressive monster heritage.

His mother’s and

all from Krit, a tiny magical country where werewolves

family are monsters

are commonplace. He loves being a monster and goes out at night times to secretly exercise his epic strength and

Books for Keeps No.246 January 2021 27

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