BfK 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued

part of children’s literature, this must still rank as one of the best. The focus may be on Elizabeth but the message is not exclusive; everyone has a dragon to face and no one should either make assumptions or be bullied. Michael Martchenko’s illustrations

to Munsch’s text, capturing characters and their emotions

are the ideal match the

- just

look at that smug expression on the dragon. They do not merely record the action but extend and enhance each scene adding a lively


dimension to the narrative. It would be difficult now to imagine the one without the other. When first published, this book

made an impact; this is recorded in the foreword for this anniversary edition by Chelsea Clinton.

It will

surely continue to do so, and this handsome new edition cannot but help once more bring it to a new audience. FH

Felix After the Rain HHHHH

Dunja Jogan, trans. Olivia Hellewell, Tiny Owl, 32pp, 978 1 9103 2845 3, £7.99 pbk

Young Felix so it seems carries the weight of the world’s

sorrows on

his shoulders, or actually in the large suitcase he drags with him no matter where he goes. The trouble is, whenever something upsetting happens in his life, the suitcase gets even heavier. Eventually it becomes almost immoveable. One day the boy feels so weighed down by his woes that he just cannot go any further. Pausing for a rest, Felix falls fast asleep under a shady tree. A boy playing nearby notices the case, opens it up and as a result all the feelings pent up inside flow out into the sky creating a huge storm. Once it abates Felix discovers that

he now feels transformed – happy, light and calm. Then with a heart bursting with joy he goes home hugely relieved and he cannot wait to embrace everyone and share his happiness. We

all go through times of

unhappiness and it’s important to be able to find release for those sad feelings, be it through mindfulness, meditation, yoga or perhaps walking in nature. This book with its themes of letting go and the power of friendship has the potential to speak to a wide audience, both through its words and the imaginative illustrations. The one showing the storm surrounding Felix

is especially striking. JB Unipiggle, the Unicorn Pig


Hannah Shaw, Usborne, 128pp, 978 1 4749 7217 8, £5-99, pbk

Bursting with fun and adventure, Hannah Shaw is back with a brand new magical series. This is set


Twinkleland Kingdom, where everyone is 100% perfect … apart from our little

Princess. For what Princess Pea most loves is getting muddy and having fun in the great outdoors. But life is tough for this little Princess. The Queen, her mother, posts the daily schedule for her daughter, from stretchy yoga, singing, pan pipe lessons and ballet, all before breakfast. After this follows an

indoor riding lesson (on her

wooden unicorn,) art and swimming lessons, then a healthy lunch before changing into her best frilly frock for the Unicorn Parade.

Groans from

Princess Pea! For today she is to select her very own unicorn, from the herd of hopeful unicorns she can spot from her window, already being groomed. So, instead of going to her first lesson, Princess P pulls on her wellies and untangles the rope ladder she keeps hidden under her bed, flings it over her balcony…. and escapes. Later, before the Grand Parade, the

the Queen welcomes all visitors, and announces that

Princess P will select the first ever Royal Unicorn, after watching them perform an elegant dance. After a trail of brilliantly coloured unicorns, quite unexpectantly, along trots a rather podgy, pongy and proud… Pig! Gasps from the King and Queen. But

Princess Pea is immediately

entranced as she realizes the pig has a HORN, just like all the other 49 unicorns.

There are disasters

galore before, of course, Princess Pea selects Pig to be her special unicorn, renaming him Unipiggle. It is a book for independent readers, or to read aloud to an audience, where the humour bursts out of every page, and the illustrations match the text in an hilariously quirky and colourful style. A winning read as an antidote to pink fluffy princesses! GB

A Hat for Mr Mountain HHHH

Soojin Kwak, Two Hoots, 32pp, 978 1 5290 1260 6 £11.99 hbk

Nara is a creative girl who fashions hats for animals of all kinds from dogs to giraffes. She loves making them feel good about their new look and there’s a warm welcome for all that visit her studio seeking a new titfa. One day a large letter arrives in the mail. It’s from a highly unexpected writer, Mr Mountain, requesting a hat. Kind-hearted

Nara resolves to

make him the best hat in the entire world.

satisfactory to Enlisting help from various

animals, she works at her massive enterprise creating a gigantic woollen hat that is entirely

Mr Mountain. However it suddenly starts to rain extremely hard and we – but maybe not Nara – know what happens when wool gets very wet. Not one to give up easily though, Nara weaves another hat from leaves. This time it’s hungry animals that do the damage. So what about wood? Now that should stand up to water and greedy animals; but maybe not the fire upon which some mice are

22 Books for Keeps No.241 March 2020

busy toasting marshmallows. Uh oh! Hat number three is ruined. Nara is so downhearted she shuts up shop, until that is, she receives an apology from the animals responsible for the disasters. It’s overheard by a monkey that comes up with a very clever idea, which just might rescue the whole sorry situation. The creator of this wonderfully

quirky, warm-hearted – or should that be warm–headed – story is new to me. Her detailed, superbly expressive illustrations

are an absolute

delight. With themes of friendship, determination and collaboration, her telling is beautifully stitched together: it’s also ideal for STEAM discussions both in the classroom or at home. JB

Agent Weasel and the Abominable Dr Snow


Nick East, Hodder Children’s Books 224pp, 9781444945300, £6.99 pbk

Agent Weasel and the Abominable Dr Snow is the second instalment of the Agent Weasel series. Although ostensibly a spy caper, the story also manages to convey a love for the eccentricities of the British woodland. Agent Weasel, along with his best

friend Doorkins (a door mouse) and a motley crew of woodland creatures including, but not limited to: stag beetles, foxes, an ermine, a moth and a mole all set off as a team of ‘United Woodlanders’ entering the


Winter Whopper games. However, after a few false starts and a delightful scene with some Beavers reminiscent of C.S Lewis, the gang gets unstuck by a hot chocolate stealing menace. The story manages


anthropomorphise the characters without them losing their essential animal characteristics. The postie pheasant who nearly gets run over and doesn’t like flying is a particular favourite as is the mole, who exhibits distinct lack of awe at a mountain top (he’d always preferred underground). The characters drive the story which is not

any adrenaline fuelled

to say it is lacking in plot. There

are rapid chases and near-death experiences abound, enough to keep any year 3 on the edge of their seat. It is a page turning romp of a book. A delightful and exciting tale which will make children see their surrounding countryside with widened eyes and may even provide the inspiration for many a winter walk. HK

Too Small Tola HHHHH

Atinuke, ill. Onyinye Iwu, Walker, 96pp, 978 1 4063 8891 6, £5.99 pbk

Tola, the ‘small but mighty’

eponymous main character of this short chapter book by Atinuke, lives in Lagos with her family including her sister Moji, brother Dapo and her ‘very very bossy Grandmummy’. The book features three separate stories detailing the adventures of Tola and these other central characters. Each tale depicts Tola’s unwavering






stature. In the first story Tola’s stamina and endurance is tested when she has to help Grandmummy carry the shopping back home from the market, in the next she has to face the local bully and in the final tale she comes to the aid of Mr Abdul when his tailoring business is under threat after his road traffic accident. Each delightful story is told with vivid description,

aided by the

vibrant illustrations of Onyinye Iwu. In addition to the enjoyable plots, which will appeal any young reader, one of the greatest successes of the book is how it subtly depicts the urbanisation of Lagos and the contrast between the rich and poor. Long queues of people waiting with buckets


jerry cans for the water pump which serves the block of flats in which Tola lives contrasts starkly with the Lamborghini and

Porsche Grandmummy and

characters such as Mrs

along parked

outside the home of characters we meet in the final story. Stand-out


Shaky, are depicted with real warmth and affection. With their strict but warm the

temperaments, quiet wisdom acquired

with with

age and experience, the reader can understand their influence on Tola and how they have helped shape her determined, spirited and kind personality. There is a distinct rhythm and style

to the stories which echo Atinuke’s traditional oral storytelling prowess. A real joy to read, Too Small Tola will appeal to readers of all ages. KF

Ori’s Stars HHHH

Kristyna Litten, Simon and Schuster, 978 1 4711 8006 4, £12.99, hbk

JAn iridescent cover attracts attention, with what appears to be a large thumbprint of a little being centred within a conglomerate of sparkling colourful stars. Readers learn this is Ori, living in the depths of space, in darkness. We

recognise her

loneliness. Amazingly, by chance, when rubbing together her hands, she discovers how to make a star. Delighted, she soon creates hundreds of them, these stars attracting figures from far and wide, lots of friendly little beings to ease her loneliness. They all want to make stars, just like Ori did. Such fun follows in the depths of space, created by Ori, Vega, Nova, Bella and Luna. These beings are beautifully crafted in glorious colours, each having their own characterful faces within their ‘thumbprint’. Each page-turn creates a gasp as colours bounce about in space, the star constellations randomly scattered about, often in a black background, within explosions of blue, green, pink and purple. Readers can explore the wonderfully imaginative


made… bicycles, train trucks, a helter- skelter, a big wheel, all giving such pleasure. When all five friends are plunged into outer darkness once again, they realise there might well be

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