reviews 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued

other beings far out there, as lonely as they had all been. Spread the light! The five decide they must split up, whizzing east, whooshing west, zooming north and darting off south until the new stars they make attract beings from deep in space, each making new stars until the sky is filled to brimming with stars. No-one feels lonely again. Those readers keen on star gazing will be searching the pages for Orion the hunter, Ursa Major and the Big Dipper. A remarkable book showing just how powerful can be the bonds of friendship. GB

The Day the Banana Went Bad


Michelle Robinson, ill. Tom Knight, Scholastic, 32pp, 9781407199320 £6.99 pbk

This is a great book for today’s throwaway society except that the veg doesn’t end up on a compost heap! It’s a great title and looks, from the front cover, as if the banana might be really evil but it’s not quite like that when you carry on reading.

All is quiet on the introductory title

page as the fruit and veg are smiling in their containers. But then one banana realises he has been discarded and sent to the reject bin because he is bruised and over ripe. He quickly rallies the rest of the rejected fruit and veg with a rousing cry of: ‘We won’t stay where we should! So what if we’re all wonky? Different isn’t bad - it’s GOOD!’ He works hard at freeing all the

veg and they all get up to mischief in the supermarket including a page that children will definitely love as it features the banana baring its ‘bottom!’. They are then led to safety to a place that, for them, enables them to be free. The chosen spot will make everybody smile! The story is all in rhyme with plenty

of humour. The font is striking and, at times, bold with plenty of capitals to make the point. I think the book would be great for KS2 too as the drawings are in an

appealing cartoon style

that I think would particularly appeal to budding cartoon artists who are older - the faces are really expressive and would certainly provide inspiration

for drawing more. Added to this are the jokes in the book - all in all, it will appeal to a wide audience including teachers celebrating imperfections and differences too. SG

Mustafa’s Jumper HHHH

Coral Rumble, ill Charlotte Cooke, Wacky Bee Books, 40pp, 978-1-9999033-5-0, £6.99 pbk,

A timely and touching story of the two

backgrounds. ‘Milo isn’t extra clever,

growing friendship between children from very different

or extra

naughty, or extra anything. He tends to stay in the background’, but when Mustafa, a young refugee who speaks no English, joins Milo’s class Milo steps forward to befriend him. The other children in class think making friends with someone who doesn’t speak English will be difficult, but Milo proves them wrong, soon the two boys are in the playground throwing a ball to one another and having great fun. Gradually the friendship between

the two boys grows and both become more confident. Mustafa is quick to learn and soon has the whole class in fits of laughter with his funny stories.

8 – 10 Junior/Middle Sequin and Stitch HHHH

Laura Dockrill, illustrated by Sara Ogilvy, Barrington Stoke, 96pp, £6.99 pbk

Sequin lives with her mother and her little brother on the twelfth floor of a tower block. Her mum is the most special person in the world in Sequin’s opinion; she is the person who makes the dresses created by the fashion designers. It is a shame she practically never goes out and never talks about her work. In fact, her name never appears when the dresses are shown in public. So no one believes Sequin when she describes her mother as her inspiration. Will Sequin ever be able to show off her mum as she would like? Laura Dockrill is already well known

for her lively writing in prose and poetry. This is typical of her writing, and the concise prose required by Barrington Stoke suits her style, indeed, enhances it, with no room for unnecessary description or irrelevant dialogue. The result is an attractive immediacy in which the narrative moves briskly as Sequin introduces us to her world – the sort of world which will be familiar to many young readers. Sequin herself is a character with real personality, her voice clear and convincing and when tragedy strikes the family is all too realistic and believable. It is something that could happen (and has happened) but the twist at the end is both clever and a surprise that will leave the young reader well satisfied. This is a story to delight all; an excellent, enjoyable, accessible experience. FH

Joseph Coelho’s latest Poems Aloud HHHH

Joseph Coelho, illus. Daniel Gray- Barnett, Wide Eyed, 48pp, 9 780711 247680, £11.99, hbk


aimed at junior school children, is all about poems to perform. While his introduction says that you can equally well

perform them alone,

they nevertheless emphasise the rhythm and rhyme and dramatic characterisation likely to catch and hold an audience’s attention. There’s a challenge, too,

to the reader/

performer in rising to the demands of a poem’s language, theme and intent. The collection kicks off with tongue twisters and ends with a poem that intends to make a significant statement about climate change. You are challenged to make your audience laugh and cry; to feel; and to think. You must be an actor, a storyteller and an advocate. Coelho provides poems that encourage you to do all of this and which incidentally might give you hints and tips on how to start writing and performing your own poems. The collection is presented in a colourful picturebook format with lively cartoons by Daniel Gray-Barnett; a format that emphasises Coelho’s ‘biggest rule of all’ – ‘that poetry is fun and ultimately there are no rules!’ CB

But it’s clear that we do need to remember the

Holocaust, and

Michael Rosen’s latest book is an excellent way to do exactly that. His parents came to Britain from Eastern Europe, and as a child young Michael asked them about their extended family, the uncles and aunts who stayed behind and fell under the shadow of Nazi Occupation. They had disappeared, never to be heard of again, and he wondered how that could happen – how could people simply vanish? That was the stimulus for a life-time

The Missing HHHHH

Michael Rosen, Walker Books, 978-1406386752, £8.99 hbk

There are many books about the Holocaust

– history, memoirs,

essays, novels, poetry, even graphic novels and picture books. Although it seems that as the actual events of the Holocaust recede ever more into the past, real knowledge of it among young people fades. Perhaps it’s now increasingly thought of as a ‘historical event’, the 20th century’s version of the Black Death or the Great Famine in Ireland, especially as it’s now at the point of being almost beyond living memory.

of investigation that took him to the USA to talk to other family members, through archives and libraries and digital sources, and this book is the result. He does find out what happened to his family, retrieving in the process

their names and

something of their history. The stories are, as you can imagine, poignant, tragic, and horrifying, but this act of familial loyalty and remembrance is ultimately uplifting.

extracts from his poems about his missing relatives,

Michael has included and


some whole

thing is perfectly written in a clear, accessible way that will help children to engage with such a difficult subject. This is absolutely not to be missed, a title that should definitely be in every school and library. TB

Mustafa gets sad sometimes too and Milo understands ‘Sometimes sad people just want you to sit next to them. It’s not a hard job’. A day arrives, however, when Mustafa seems especially sad, he has found out he has to return to his country and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Milo finds it difficult to understand and badly misses his friend, his mum tells him ‘Mustafa will always be in your memories’.

The next day in

class Milo discovers Mustafa’s school jumper and hangs it on the peg next to his own where it remains to remind Milo and the rest of his class what a very special person Mustafa was. This beautifully written story

manages to introduce a difficult subject to younger readers in a moving and gentle way. The absence of a happy ending does need to be borne in mind, however, as some children may find it upsetting. The

story is based on Coral

Rumble’s poem Mustafa’s Jumper, which won the Caterpillar Poetry Prize in 2018. There is a section at the end of the book which contains the poem and information about refugees and migrants for young audiences reading the book. AB

Books for Keeps No.241 March 2020 23

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