5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued or something new.

The Perfect Shelter HHHHH When Stella is

sad to leave her mum and climb on the school bus, she is pleased to say hello to Charlie when she gets to the new school. And when the children are playing happily outside, they must come inside and play new games there. After the snowmen melt, there are puddles to splash in, and when the goldfish dies, there is a loving arm to console and give a ‘full heart’. But there is one goodbye that is very, very difficult. When Charlie’s family sells up and moves away, both children are bereft: ‘goodbye is the last thing you want to say…goodbye to holding tight is hello to letting go’. But even then, there will always be another hello, in this case to a new friend who has moved into Charlie’s house. And we see there will be letters too. This simple,

parents forgive her; more than that, her father accepts how important it is that she feels she can just be herself, something that will resonate for all sorts of readers. There’s lots to like and children are endlessly fascinated by characters who struggle with the rules. They’ll appreciated Mirabelle’s lively first-person narrative style too and the cool black and purple illustrations. You can expect Mirabelle to be working her magic for lots of books to come. AR

The Longest Strongest Thread HHHHH

Inbal Leitner, Scallywag Press, 32pp, 978 1 912650 18 7, £12.99 hbk

This delicate, poignant picture book tells us of the loving relationship between a grandmother and her small granddaughter. The little


and her parents are moving away to a cold country ‘where the lakes freeze in winter’ and Grandma is staying behind where it is warm. Grandma has a sewing studio where she makes beautiful things, and when the little girl goes to say goodbye, Grandma can be seen making a warm coat of yellow and blue to keep her granddaughter cosy. The story, told from the little girl’s viewpoint, makes clear that she is going to miss her Grandmother very much indeed, and the feeling is mutual. Grandmother is supportive, and it is clear at the end that she will visit the little girl in her new country. In these days when families often are separated by oceans and time zones, the need for such a book as this is apparent, and the gentle, light-touch illustrations, full of the yellow and blue

of the splendid new coat, are a joy. ES Say Goodbye…Say Hello


Cori Doerrfeld, Scallywag Press, 40pp, 978 1 912650 43 9, £12.99 hbk

When Stella and Charlie meet and make friends, they learn all about the sadness of saying goodbye and the happiness of saying hello to someone

with warm and affecting illustrations will help children

touching picture book learn emotional

highs and lows, and to cope with all the hellos and goodbyes they will experience in life.

A beautiful book,

brimful of quality in production, as well as understanding and love. ES

Albert Talbot, Master of Disguise


Written by Ben Manley, ill. Aurelie Guillerey, Two Hoots, 32pp, 978-1-5098-8224-3, £12.99, hbk

Walking to school, presenting his class project, taking a swimming lesson… Albert’s life is one big challenge. Luckily for Albert, he’s a Master of Disguise, with an array of alter-egos to call on in emergencies. From Rusti Buffels the mountaineer to Antarctic Submariner Zandrian Delaclair,


Anselom Facklejacket to Professor Octavius Pickleswick, Albert’s alter- egos are always ready to step in and take the pressure off. In Albert’s case, imagination is definitely the original super-power. It certainly helps him make it through the day to bedtime… Beyond Albert’s

realization that

‘being himself’ might sometimes be the best of all, there’s little in the way of over-arching plot within this book. But as a joyful and absorbing exploration of a series of imaginative set-pieces it has much to offer, and Guillery’s engaging illustrations add bags of energy and charm. Additional visual details take each story deeper, as well as creating links across the spreads, and it’s worth taking plenty of time for reflection and discussion as you share this book. Whether you’d like to support an

anxious child, or are simply looking for escapist fun, this is a book that will be enjoyed

and appreciated.

Young audiences will recognize and respond to Albert’s message: you may have to toe the line and obey the rules but your mind is your own - and imagination is power. CFH

Clare Helen Walsh, ill. Asa Gilland, Little Tiger, 32pp, 978 1 78881 578 9, £11.99 hbk

This inter-racial family share idyllic days together while the two little girls make a shelter in the woods. ‘We sang as we worked and we worked as we sang…It’s the perfect, perfect shelter.’ But then something goes wrong. The older child isn’t well, and no one knows why. At the same time, the shelter is damaged by wind. When the younger girl, who tells the story, is finally told that her sister is seriously ill and must have an operation, she is very worried indeed. And the shelter needs fixing too. Visiting the hospital is hard: ‘Why can’t she come home? Why MY sister?’ And then a storm destroys the shelter – unimportant because it is her

sister that is

important now. When sister is some better, the younger one tells her all about the destruction of their shelter, and they decide to build a new one right then and there, in the hospital out of sheets and blankets: ‘It’s the perfect, perfect shelter’, they sing, and then they make plans to go back and re-build their shelter in the woods ‘to ride out the toughest storms’. But, they also know that today is a perfect day for all the family to be together. The disintegration of the shelter and the possible disintegration of a happy family are in obvious parallel, and the fact that the shelter can be re-built anywhere becomes the hope that the family, in whatever context, will be re- built as well. The text is lyrical, and the pictures expressive and full of family love. The illness may be cancer, but this isn’t mentioned, and whatever it is, the implications are that only time will tell the outcome. Moving and delicate, with just the right amount of information, this story should supply hope along with truth. ES

The Wishing Star HHHH

Emma Beswetherick, ill. Anna Woodbine, Oneworld Publications, 96pp, 978 1 78607 758 5, £5.99 pbk

This is the first title in the Playdate Adventures series, written by debut author Emma Beswetherick with the aim of providing exciting and inspiring adventure stories featuring girls for the 5-8 age range. The Wishing Star tells the story of the first playdate adventure featuring Katy, Cassie and Zia, all friends in Year 3 at school, together with Katy’s cat Thunder. When the girls build a rocket out of recycled waste the power of their imagination makes

their transported

adventure come to life and they find themselves

planned to outer

space in a life-sized rocket heading for the Wishing Star.

Here the four

travellers are granted planet-saving wishes before zooming back to Katy’s bedroom in time for tea. This is a lively, contemporary, and

engaging new series for newly confident readers with positive themes of

empowering girls to have adventures, supportive

and care for the environment, Child of Galaxies HHHHH

Written by Blake Nuto, ill. Charlotte Ager, Flying Eye Books, 48pp, 978-1-912497-42-3, £11.99, hbk

“Your body was made from the

STUFF of the STARS, you’re a CHILD of GALAXIES dreaming….”

picturebook celebrates the wonder and

This beautifully mystery of


presented by

encouraging us to slow down, attend to what is around us and consider deeper

meanings. Nuto’s lyrical

verse text introduces some of life’s biggest questions in an appealing and accessible way, and Ager’s bright, bold

illustrations encourage to joyful

immersion as they dance from page to page. Throughout the book, words and pictures work together


readers to explore complex ideas at their own level and pace, prompting reflection, discussion and growth. Death (referred to as ‘the mysterious morning’) is given two full spreads in what has to be one of the most upbeat approaches to the subject in a picturebook, and children’s doubts and anxieties are acknowledged as a natural part of life and placed in a wider context that brims with hope and optimism. Nuto takes a philosophical rather than a religious approach, but plenty of space is left for wondering about the why and the what next. As the text observes, when you’re “heading nowhere at all on a life-giving ball, you can only suppose there’s a purpose,” and while some religiously-observant families may be uncomfortable with the content, others will welcome the chance to talk about their faith in this context. This is Ager’s debut picturebook

and her illustrations are a delight. Spreads are

varied in mood and

palette, but a sense of playful sincerity is apparent throughout, and there is a confident approach to colour and composition.


The visually-appealing hand- font


capitalization which can feel a little intrusive

(although it may help

younger readers to feel the beat) and there are moments when Nuto’s verse doesn’t flow as naturally as it might. Overall it’s a winner, though – the poetic approach helps readers to think differently and encourages visual and emotional responses. Child of Galaxies was first published following a successful Campaign which raised

Kickstarter £15,000

and sold 500 books. Families from diverse backgrounds are


throughout, and a wheelchair-user is shown enjoying a visit to a gallery with her family. CFH

Books for Keeps No.243 July 2020 25 regular

friendship, imagination, all

presented in an accessible style with appealing illustrations. SR

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