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reviews


Under 5s Pre – School/Nursery/Infant continued Just like you


HHHH


Jo Loring-Fisher, Otter-Barry Books, 32pp.,9781913074814 , £12.99 hbk


In this charming picture book, a girl points at her two eyes, her nose, and we follow the pages through, all the way down to one bottom, two knees and two feet- and then she says that, ‘My feet can take me a long, long way’ next


to her mother who has


her head covered, and that her feet can run very fast. Sometimes she’s happy, sometimes she’s


sad; she


loves cuddles with Mum and her baby brother or sister, and feeling safe and warm – and then we see where she sleeps, living out of a suitcase with cooking pots and bowls on the floor. The final double-page spread shows that she lives in a temporary shelter in a refugee camp surrounded by a fence topped with barbed wire, but repeats that she is ‘Just like you’. Even quite young children


the other family members are busily engaged in various house.


with disappointment before settling into


enthusiastic play. Excellent


design adds to the visual appeal of the whole – spacious full page spreads combine with active vignettes, a clear font beautifully placed on each page and end pages that move from grey to rainbow drops; a lovely picture book to welcome and share. FH


Grandpa’s Gift HHHH


Fiona Lumbers, Simon & Schuster, 32pp, 978 1 4711 6656 3, 24pp, £12.99, hbk


should


understand that becoming a refugee can happen to anyone and is not the fault of the person involved or their family, and this book will encourage empathy and understanding of some other children’s lives. This is Jo Loring-Fisher’s first book


as author and illustrator. She had previously illustrated Samuel Narh’s picture book, Maisie’s Scrapbook, about a mixed-race family, and that was well-reviewed. Otter-Barry is well known for publishing books with a purpose, and this will be a useful addition to a library, both as a story as and as a way of appreciating how some other children live. DB


Sunny-side Up HHHH


Jacky Davis. Illustrated by Fiona Woodcock, Greenwillow Books, 40pp, 9780062573070, £12.99 hbk


What can you do when the weather is grey and the rain is falling – especially if you are a lively child who wants to be outside? Well you might find a nest on the sofa – build a great tower of blocks – create a hidey hole where you can draw or imaginatively cook ... all of these are brilliant suggestions filling in the hours until Mum comes home – and yes, the clouds clear; time to go out. Fiona Woodcock’s illustrations capture the moods in


A little boy has recently arrived in the city. Although the reasons for this move are not explained, it is clear he misses the space and freedom of the home he has left behind. His grandpa takes him for a walk to a dusty old junk shop full of unwanted objects. They find interesting things to show each other; the boy a telescope and


grandpa what appears an


uninteresting grey stone, his grandson is not impressed. But when opened, something beautiful and magical is revealed. Changed by this experience the young boy becomes more aware of beauty in the world around him - a flower poking through the paving slabs, a bird around his feet and he imagines what might lie under the ground.


Eventually his journey of


discovery leads him to a wonderful playground and a new friend. After initial doubts, he begins to feel there may be lots to look forward to in life in his new home after all. A gentle, beautifully illustrated picturebook with an uplifting story about not jumping to conclusions and finding ‘the everyday fantastic’ – the beauty and wonder in the ordinary and every day. A story which might prompt young readers to make their own discoveries and look at


their


world with fresh eyes. SMc The Lipstick


HHH


Laura Dockrill, ill. Maria Karipidou, Walker Books, 40pp, 978 1 4063 8955 5, £12.99 hbk


this gentle


picture book perfectly. A pastel palette of watercolours have been married to printing techniques to create a softly textured look, covering whole pages with tones that exactly mirror the emotion of the moment. However these are not impressionistic images. Clear pencil outlines ensure the little girl is a very solid creation who will engage the young reader in these very recognisable activities.


The gently


rhyming text by Jacky Davis captures the child’s mood – bouncing long in anticipation at the beginning of the day, dripping with the rain and spiky


Experimental mark making is an important part of young children’s development so it’s never a good idea to leave such things as your best bright pink lipstick lying around at home like the mother of the small child narrator of this story does. Not content with trying it out on his


lips, he decides to take the lipstick ‘for a little walk’. Something of a euphemism as it turns out, for it isn’t long before the odd daub has become an entire graffiti covered house, both upstairs and down, as the little boy has his best ever day. ‘I let the lipstick take charge.’ he tells readers. Oddly, said child has been left


completely unsupervised (apart from by the family’s moggy Martin) and thus his doodles multiply in parallel with his mounting enthusiasm as all


parts of the


But all good things … and eventually disaster! Caught, not


Maria Karipidou’s


verbally and visually. illustrations


red- handed


but pink lipsticked. Definitely a case of artistic expression that’s got just a tad out of hand and it’s brilliantly related both


are


an absolute hoot showing the young narrator getting into flow state - the perfect accompaniment to the tongue-in-cheek text. It’s just as well that home-schooling


is coming to an end as a sharing of this might just result in some copycat


creativity. JB Wolf Girl


HHHH


Written and ill. Jo Loring-Fisher, Frances Lincoln Children’s (First Editions) 32pp, 978-0-7112-4956-1, £12.99 hbk


Shy children often find a refuge in imaginative worlds, and time spent in those faraway places may help them when they come back home. So it is with Sophy. School is a place


of isolation and anxiety, but in her city flat she has made a wolf den. Beneath a blanket, by lamplight, Sophy wears her wolf suit and imagines that she is fierce and fast and strong. One morning, Sophy wears her suit


for school. Surely everyone will like it and want to be her friend? But Sophy still can’t find the courage to talk to anyone, and the other children laugh at her. Back home, she hides in her den and cries - and as she does so, something extraordinary happens. Her den becomes the “silent, snowy woods she knew from her books,” and a wolf and her pup are waiting to play with her. Together they run and prance and howl until a blizzard strikes, when they seek shelter in a deep, dark cave. But the cave is also sheltering a bear, and it’s this encounter that helps Sophy speak up. When she returns


from her


adventure, the warm, brave feelings inside her are still there, and finally Sophy is able to find her voice. Sophy’s story is told in a way that young


helps audiences connect,


and children who find ambiguity challenging will be pleased by the way Jo Loring-Fisher handles the dream element. Others may find this aspect disappointing, and feel that the text doesn’t quite match the lyrical charm of her artwork. And it’s Loring-Fisher’s artwork that


elevates this story


and transforms it. Landscape and mood are evoked with such skill and sensitivity that we can feel the chill of this northern forest and the warmth of


Sophy’s interactions with the


animals. Grey city playgrounds, caves filled with leaf-litter and luminous snowscapes are brought to life in spreads that sweep us away and fill us with magic. Loring-Fisher’s


story may not


surprise readers, but it has important things to say, and it says them kindly, in a way that will resonate with


children who are dealing with shyness and need to work out how to live with it. As with Sophy, change may be necessary, but this doesn’t mean we have to lose who we are. Imagination allows us to explore new versions of ourselves, and books like this support and illuminate such journeys. It’s worth adding that the endpapers continue the visual story of Sophy’s friendship with the “owlish little boy”, and there’s a special bonus in the hardback: remove the dust jacket to reveal a gorgeous snowscape glowing in the sunshine - just like the pattern on Sophy’s (magic?) lampshade. CFH


Uncle Bobby’s Wedding HHHHH


Written by Sarah S. Brannen, ill. Lucia Soto, Hodder, 32pp, 978-1-444-96093-8, £12.99 hbk


Chloe has a very special relationship with her Uncle Bobby. He takes her rowing, teaches her the names of the stars and loves flying kites. So when Bobby announces his engagement to Jamie at a family picnic, Chloe feels left out. Everyone else is celebrating, but Bobby is her special uncle, and Chloe doesn’t want their relationship to change. ‘Why is Uncle Bobby getting married?’ she asks her mum. ‘When grown-up people love each other that much, sometimes they get married’, Mum replies, and suggests that Chloe and Bobby have a chat. After a day having fun with Bobby and Jamie, Chloe discovers that time spent with both of them is even better than time alone with Bobby. ‘I wish both of you were my uncles,’ she says, and of course, her wish comes true. Chloe is a flower girl at ‘the best wedding ever,’ as Jamie joins the family and the celebrations begin. Packed with action and emotion,


Lucia Soto’s brightly-coloured artwork brings a contemporary buzz


to an


LGBTQ+ classic first published in the USA in 2008 with illustrations by the author, and subsequently reworked for this completely new edition. Instead of the anthropomorphised guineapigs of the original, Soto gives us an exuberant and expressive cast of visibly diverse characters who draw us to the heart of their story about love and family, and how we celebrate. Chloe’s


uncertainty about her


uncle’s wedding will strike a chord with children worried


by change,


and it’s her fear that she will lose a favourite uncle to another relationship that drives this story, not the nature of that relationship. As Sarah Brannen says on mombian.com, “the whole point of the book is that the wedding of Bobby and his boyfriend Jamie is just part of the fabric of a family. Except for a couple of pronouns, the story would be identical if Bobby was marrying a woman.” This beautiful, heartwarming and celebration of love and


important


family reassures children that change can bring joy and new possibilities, and leaves all of us with a warm glow. CFH


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