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BfK some clucks of


5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued course


but also


shorter sentences which make for easy reading. The illustrations are endearing-naturalistic with some beautiful pictures of other animals and some of their homes. Some of the pictures are double pages which work well to give a lovely pictures of the nature scenes she finds herself in. A lovely one for learning about well


known animals, especially if you are a chicken owner! SG


Lionel the Lonely Monster HHHHH


Fred Blunt, OUP, 32pp, 978 0 19 277369 2, £6.99, pbk


Here is Lionel, not much like a lion, but oh so sad, with his crumply horns, his spikey tail and his woebegone mouth.


Carrying a Children


FREE HUGS he cannot find anyone to befriend.


placard run,


with scared,


and grownups are too busy to notice him. Unbearably sad and weepy, he then encounters a yappy dog who gives the monster a “concerned prod and a lick”. Their friendship begins, but when they reach the playground, again all the children scream and run away. Only when Monster realises the dog is looking sad does he see the LOST poster on a tree, with a picture of the dog, and he sees his dog collar identifies him as Milo, the lost dog. How to resolve the story? Squeals of delight by the owner as Monster returns Milo to the address on his collar, followed by howls of horror as the girl spots Monster on her pathway. Finally, they are all three playing together, with the little girl promising he would be her BFF. A gentle tale with a few twists, admirably portrayed in pastel shades, with lots of small details, ladybirds, snails and fly agarics to draw the eye from the main action. This gentle colouring makes the huge


black


capitals of MONSTER! scream off the double spread, near the end. A warm story to show the power of kindness and how one should not judge others by appearances, it will appeal to all small children with a sense of fun. GB


The King with Dirty Feet HHHHH


Sally Pomme Clayton, ill. Rhiannon Sanderson, Otter-Barry, 40pp, 978 1 91307 498 2, £7.99 pbk


This new version of an old and delightful


tale from India and


Bangladesh has been created by the acclaimed story teller, Sally Pomme Clayton. It is beautifully written, and like all her writing, reads aloud very well. In a beautiful palace in India lives a king, a happy king, whose kingdom is filled with trees, flowers, animals and a flowing river. He has everything he wants and he is very happy. However, the one thing he hates is bathtime. That King has not washed for a week; a month; he has not washed for a whole year! And he has begun to smell. Sadly, he himself


tires of his stink and decides it must be time for a bath. The news spreads fast, and crowds come to the river side to watch the King washing and scrubbing his body. However, when he emerges from the water and dries himself he realises his feet are still dirty. Despite renewed efforts to scrub them clean, the King is frustrated by his still dirty feet, and demands his servants rid the land of the dirt. The sweeping and flooding of the land has no effect, and finally the people alight upon the idea of covering up the land. And so the people create a monster cloth, from the school to the well, from the temple to the palace, and all the way to the river. It takes the wise words of an old, old man to tell the king that now they would have nowhere to grow flowers and grass for the animals, no fruit or vegetables for the people to eat. SNIP, SNIP, SNIP, goes the old, old man, and from the wondrous cloth he creates the first pair of shoes! The illustrator captures the emotions of all the characters in bold, striking colours, and readers can feel the delight on the faces of the newly shod people at the end of the book. A great book for dramatisation and for oral story telling. GB


Brookie and her Lamb 978-1-68137-545-8


Fish for Supper 978-1-68137-546-5


HHHH


M.B.Goffstein, New York Review of Books Children’s Collection, £13.99 hbk


The quality of these two modest books lives in their absolute daring. They were perhaps all too quiet the many busy children’s


for books


editors in London when they were first published in New York in the sixties and seventies but they were time-defying and it is good to find them now. In the first of them, Brookie adopts a lamb whom she loves very much. That is presumably reciprocated together


for allowing itself


with the to


they go around lamb patiently be


humanised


although all it can say is Baa baa baa.


In the second, a respectably


independent grandmother gets up in the morning, has breakfast, spends the day fishing and the comes home and cooks the catch for supper. The leanness of the narrative is matched by the simplicity of the protagonists’ portrayals – unembellished outline drawings of the non-stories related by the words.


You must watch and


listen with a heightened sensibility to catch the moments brought to life by Goffstein’s observant personality. Just look at the jauntiness in ‘Brookie took the lamb for a walk’ faced by ‘and a little dog barked at them’ simply (and uniquely) there in silhouette. Hear the echo when, after breakfast, grandmother ‘cleans up the dishes, fast, fast, fast’ and then at the end of


22 Books for Keeps No.247 March 2021


the day ‘fast, fast, she cleaned up the dishes and went to bed.’ You can live in these daft, rudimentary episodes more than in the elaborate verbosities that occupy so many picture books then and now. BA


The Greatest Show Penguin HHHH


Lucy Freegard, Pavilion, 978 1 84365 468 1, £7.99, pbk


Here is all the awe and wonder of the circus showground, with the Penguin family showing their prowess in all the traditional circus acts. Practising and perfecting their skills is a daily part of life, even meal times involve some acrobatics.


Little Poppy performs


daily, travelling around the country, but she knows, deep down, that performing is not her passion. She doesn’t like all the loud noises, the bright lights, the crowded places. How


can she tell her Mum she doesn’t want to perform any more? Wisely, Mum gives her some space, some peace and quiet, and it is not long before Poppy begins to realise that in fact there is much she misses from circus life. Light bulb moment….Poppy has a brilliant idea that she could help to run the show, rather than perform. So many areas need expertise; health and safety, auditions, equipment, costumes.


During performances,


Poppy feels calm and in control as she peeps through the curtains and watches the greatest show on earth. With her parents bursting with pride, she has found her niche. Illustrated in soft pastel watercolours and well- spaced text to balance the acrobatic performers, this tale


readers to think about balancing their own life skills and finding their place in life. GB


8 – 10 Junior/Middle New talent The Last Bear HHHH


Hannah Gold, illus Levi Pinfold, HarperCollins Children’s Books, 304pp, 978-0008411282, £12.99 hbk


The urgency of saving the Arctic is made wonderfully,


magically


in Hannah Gold’s majestic debut. Eleven-year-old April escapes


miseries of school and travels with her scientist father


real the


to a remote


outpost on the equally faraway Bear Island. Under the midnight sun, while her father monitors and records temperatures and wind speeds, April explores the island and discovers its last polar bear, isolated, wounded and starving. We already know that like the mother she can now scarcely remember, April has a special bond with animals. As she helps and feeds the bear, the two become more than human and animal, more than friends, almost the same creature. Travelling across the island on the polar bear’s back April understands how he came to be there alone, and the desperate need to take him to Svalbard and the chance of a proper life. There’s no doubt that April’s relationship with the bear is the stuff of fairytales –


A Girl Called Joy HHHHH


Jenny Valentine, Simon & Schuster, 201pp, 9781471196492, £7.99 pbk


This story has a ten-year-old heroine so unreservedly nice and positive it seems inevitable she will eventually have a fall. And so she does, when her formidable new school mistress quickly becomes and then stays highly irritated with such a free spirit. For Joy, aptly named, had never been to school


will cause


the thought of him gives her a ‘shimmery glimmer of excitement, as if someone had sprinkled glitter all over her’ – but through it readers are brought exhilaratingly close to a magnificent wild animal and given an vivid, unforgettable message


about the importance


of saving them. April may be small and overlooked, but she proves to everyone that she can make a difference. It’s a message readers will take to their hearts. The story features illustrations throughout by Levi Pinfold and, characteristically atmospheric, they make this book even more special. LS


before, travelling around the world instead with her peripatetic parents who also provided loving and fun home schooling. Returning to the UK to stay with a sick grandfather proves another matter. But while her stroppy older sister soon finds she actually enjoys school, once given the chance, Joy never gets the hang of it. Her only refuge there is a massive ancient oak tree standing in the school playground. Finally she makes friends with cheerful fellow pupil Benny and things start to improve.


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