though Mrs Noah’s Garden can be enjoyed by itself, threaded throughout the

text and the pictures are

references to that first story, adding depth and humour to the narrative. Once again Mrs Noah, loving, caring - and quietly creative, is at the centre of the story. Mr Noah, as in the first book, is completely focused on the practical. Not for him any imaginative nonsense – no troublesome unicorns. What he wants are curtains for his new home – what he gets is so much more. The simple text by Jackie Morris avoids

excess, setting the scene

clearly without fuss, easily accessible to a young audience. Bringing the text to glorious life are the illustrations by James Mayhew. They teem with colour, texture and life, both


and imaginative. The production is excellent – clear font and well-placed text to accompany illustrations that have


their own rhythm sweeping the

spreads, adding to,

expanding and enhancing the words on the page and in the mind. Morris and Mayhew capture the essence of an old, well known story giving it life for a diverse contemporary audience. FH

Under 5s Pre-School/Nursery/Infant continued Bloom


Anne Booth, ill. Robyn Wilson- Owen, Tiny Owl, 32pp, 978 1 910328 44 6, £7.99 pbk

This allegory about the power of

kindness over selfishness and anger is a strong one, and the interesting illustrations play an important part of the story. We begin with a background of grey tower blocks right next to a brightly coloured house with a big pink flower growing in front. A little girl and her brother walking to school see the flower, and the little girl talks to it each day, telling it how beautiful it is and that she loves it. But when the old man who lives in the house sees her, he shouts at her and tells her never to come near the flower again. Frightened, the two children walk to school a different way. When the flower droops and refuses to cheer up, the old man tries everything to help, shouting at his gardener (female!) that she must be doing something wrong. He even talks to the flower, but only about himself and how important a man he is. At this time in the story, we begin to see the old man on one side of the double page and the

children and their

mum having a happy family life in the tower block on the other half. The juxtaposition of the two is very telling as to their respective lives, and when the gardener explains to the old man that the little girl used to talk to the flower, he is puzzled. He talks to the flower too, so what is the difference? He must go to the school and find the little girl. She explains how she talked to the flower, and he must learn to use the language of love too. The double page spread at the end shows the flower in full bloom, along with a big party with the old man and lots of neighbours. The moral is a good one, and easily digested, and children will love seeing the little girl right and the angry old man wrong. ES

My Nana’s Garden HHHHH

Dawn Casey, ill. Jessica Courtney- Tickle, Templar Publishing, 40pp, 978 17874 1663 5, £6.99 pbk

Picture books about love and loss don’t come much better than this one. A little

girl visits her grandmother beloved through the seasons.

Nana loves her garden, a wonderfully wild place where nature is allowed to flourish, for Nana understands the importance of an abundance of weeds to the bees and other small creatures.

5 – 8 Infant/Junior My Friend Earth HHHH

Patricia MacLachlan, ill. Francesca Sanna, Chronicle Books, 32pp, 978 0 8118 7910 1, £12.99 hbk

This truly is a celebration of our Earth – not Mother Earth this time, for Francesca Sanna represents Earth as a young girl who does many wonderful things. Woken from her

winter’s sleep

by birdsong and the sound of the farmer’s hoe heralding the arrival of spring, she tends to and guards all the animals, from the tiniest spider to the chimpanzees and whales. In summer she pours down water filling streams, making them flow down mountains to become rivers flowing to the sea. When autumn comes it’s leaves she

causes to cascade down, and come winter, she sprinkles ‘whisper silent’ a soft snow blanket to protect the tiny seeds buried in the soil awaiting the new spring, before bedding down to sleep herself once more. Lyrically written,

and lovely to

read aloud, the text highlights the awesomeness of our Earth, but it really is the stunning illustrations that for me, are the real show stealers. With die-cuts and cutaway pages creatively used to give a sense of movement

through the In this outstanding Where Happiness Begins HHHHH

Eva Eland, Andersen Press, 32pp, 978 1 78344 855 5, £12.99 hbk

picture book,

happiness is seen as a fragile pink ghost-like character, often close to the little girl, but sometimes elusive. A combination of gentle psychology and pastel colours, the story explains that sometimes we have to look for happiness, and that it can ‘go by different names’ – ie. receiving a present or rubbing a dog’s tummy. Sometimes it hides and ‘appears to have a will of its own’. It can feel frightening if you are trying something for the first time, but such trials can bring happiness in the long term. Sometimes sad feelings can get the better of happiness, but you can ‘find your way back home’ and realise that: ‘It was always there. Recognise and treasure it, because in the end, happiness begins with you.’


expanse of white background pages, along with the dainty line drawings in soft pastels, is very reminiscent of the ghost-like aspect of the concept of happiness, and the illustrations are

absolutely essential seasons

and to add to the book’s interactive nature, this is a real testament to our precious planet and its natural cycles as well as an incentive to youngsters to become Earth’s guardians too. JB

to the

understanding of the hand-written text. The whole will want to be read and re-read, particularly by children who may be finding life less than happy at the moment. The sister book to this production, When Sadness Calls, was nominated for the Kate

24 Books for Keeps No.243 July 2020

Greenaway Medal this year and is on the shortlist for the Klaus Flugge Prize. ES

It’s OK to Cry HHHH

Molly Potter, illus Sarah Jennings, Featherstone, 32pp, 978-1472942425, £10.99 hbk

Figures for male suicide in the UK are shockingly high, and if we are going to change things then starting young is the way to do it. From the best-selling author of How Are You Feeling Today? comes this new picture book that sets out to help children, and boys in particular, develop their emotional intelligence. Molly Potter begins by exploring why boys tend to struggle with their emotions, presenting a series of everyday scenarios that all children will recognise, in which boys are encouraged to ‘be tough’. She

then looks at a series of different emotions, positive and negative, again via illustrated scenes so that young readers can understand when they might experience them. The text accompanying these is very clear and will prompt lots of discussion. Equipped with the ability to articulate to themselves and others exactly how they are feeling and why will enable children to deal with strong emotions. The illustrations by Sarah Jennings are fun and friendly, and Potter’s approach will prove very helpful for children, parents and teachers alike. LS

Mirabelle Gets up to Mischief HHHH

Harriet Muncaster, OUP, 128pp, 978-0192776495, £5.99 pbk

Meet Mirabelle, half fairy, half witch, totally lovable and likely to be just as appealing to young readers as her very popular

little cousin Isadora Moon,

also created by Harriet Muncaster. Unlike Isadora, Mirabelle just can’t

resist getting up to mischief. In this story, she and her family are off to the fairy ball and she’s promised her fairy dad that she’ll keep her witch side under control. Even so, when the opportunity arises to mix up some spells, she’s there with her cauldron and it’s only with the help of her witch mum that she avoids ruining the ball for everyone there. She is genuinely

sorry though and both

Together they enjoy the flora and

fauna by day and by night, harvesting the bounties from her fruit trees and vegetable patch; and sitting warmed by a bonfire’s flames beneath a starry sky. “Blooming with life,” says Nana and so it is: Nana though is showing signs of

slowing down. Then as her garden starts

to let go with the onset of

autumn, so too does the old lady and when winter comes blanketing the garden with snow, all is bare, all is silent. Nana’s chair is empty save for a tiny robin perched on the back ‘neath her favourite crooked tree. It’s time to shed tears for Nana will sit there no more. Her garden though goes on, for

nature is cyclical and as the seasons turn, new life flourishes and cherished memories of Nana are everywhere. But, it’s not

only the plants that

grow, for we also see that there’s an addition to the family. Dawn Casey’s flowing lyrical

rhyming text reflects her love of nature and well as the love between the child narrator and her Nana. Rich in detail, Jessica’s gorgeous illustrations are the perfect complement to the telling: together they make a quietly beautiful, sensitive story that introduces death and grief in a gentle way that provides space for hope to grow too. JB

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