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reviews


Under 5s Pre-School/Nursery/Infant continued This timeless story about growing


up and moving on was first published in Italy more than a decade ago, and has been much admired for the way it addresses complex issues in an imaginative and accessible way. Giordano’s illustrations have


an


understated and gently sophisticated presence that may not attract the attention of UK families used to more dominant artwork, but those who do engage will be rewarded. Graphic lines explore the pages, rounding as they bulge into seeds and birds, splitting into


tiny raindrops and creating patterns out of grass and foliage.


Duck and Penguin Do NOT Like Sleepovers


HHH


There’s movement here, despite the interest in surface pattern and design - Giordano is an animator, as well as an illustrator, and it’s easy to imagine pressing ‘play’ on each spread and watching as it comes to life. Valentini’s


story is carefully


considered and well told, but I suspect the original Italian reads better than this


translation, which can feel a


little pedestrian in places. It does its job, though – Stay, Little Seed is a welcome addition to the bookshelves, and it’s great that Greystone Kids are making it available to English- speaking audiences. CFH


Julia Woolf, Andersen Press, 24pp, 978 1 78344 917 0, £12.99 hbk


Betty and Maud are terribly excited. There is to be a sleepover in the garden in a ‘teeny weeny tiny tent’, but their favourite toys, a duck and a penguin are not in the least pleased. In fact, they are miserable. Not only do they hate the idea of the tent, but they also hate each other!


The


girls don’t see the fisticuffs going on, nor Penguin tripping Duck, but are


convinced that the toys are


enjoying the outing as much as they are. When Maud and Betty have to


5 – 8 Infant/Junior Ed’s Choice Luna Loves Art HHHHH


Joseph Coelho and Fiona Lumbers, 32pp, Andersen Press, 9781783448661, £12.99 hdbk


Luna greets us with her irrepressible smile and equally irrepressible hair. Excitement radiates from her – she is going with her class on a school trip. In fact everyone is looking forward to it – except Finn. The art gallery is impressive – and so are the paintings. There is so much to see and do. Luna is completely engaged; Finn is not – there is clearly something wrong. ‘Maybe he needs a friend’ says Mum. So Luna makes the effort but it is when the class encounter Douanier Rousseau’s Surprised that Finn is able to express what he is really feeling, while Family Group by Henry Moore unlocks a bit more. Soon Finn is able to enjoy the outing with his new friend Luna. This is a subtle story that does


not just introduce a young audience to some of the most iconic works of modern and contemporary art (Louise


Bourgeois’ great metal


spider towers over the children, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers spill out of their frame), it is also about the stories even children hide. We see Luna getting


ready with her Dad who


drops her off at the school gates. We learn that her Mum is a parent helper. And what about Finn? Coelho does not describe his background


Leap, Hare, Leap HHHH


Dom Conlon, illus Anastasia Izlesou, Graffeg, 32pp, 978-1-9131-3492-1, £7.99, pbk


‘Dip-dwelling grass-grazer, beautiful


Hare – ask why she’s standing, ask what she hears….’


‘black-tailed scrub-scrambler’ called Jackrabbit, who’s a distant cousin. But there’s no time to play - a coyote is prowling, so Hare leaps onto a snowy mountain slope where Arctic Hare is peeping from a ‘fur-warm hole.’ Will our ‘fire-eyed moon-jumper’ be safe here? Or will the Snowy Owl force Hare to make another jump? With every leap, children are new animals and


introduced to


but the


through his encounter art


we appreciate with Finn’s


circumstances. There will be young readers who will recognise this sort of situation and both empathise and sympathise. The text is direct and immediate with a poet’s eye for phrase and timing. Fiona Lumbers in her illustrations captures the mood and atmosphere. There is a sense of space as the class moves across each double spread in the gallery – but there is the moment when Finn explodes; a neat series of vignettes. She reproduces the art subtly – this will intrigue not overwhelm and young readers who get the opportunity will find themselves recognising the real work; not least because the inside covers introduce a selection in a lovely mixture. The design is exemplary; the text clearly placed on each page inviting reading as the eye is invited to look. Recommended. FH


There’s a fox stalking Hare, but


he’ll have to be very fast to catch her. Hare’s long ears ‘rise like hands in class’ and ‘quick as a sniff, she’s a firm-footed lea-leaper’ bounding effortlessly from her natural grassy habitat to less familiar landscapes. On her first jump, Hare lands in the American desert where she meets a


habitats, but danger follows Hare from one page to the next. In this story, she does reach home safely – but real Hares need protecting, and information about the Hare Preservation Trust is provided on the final spread, together with some interesting facts and figures and a glossary. Dom Conlon is a poet who knows


how to make a picturebook text sing. Read it aloud to enjoy the rhythms and sounds – there are mini-kennings to be explored, and plenty of intriguing words


and imagery. Anastasia


Izlesou’s dramatic artwork presents Hare’s experiences in close-up and from unusual angles.


Landscapes


and vegetation are identifiable, but depicted with an eye for form and colour


rather than aiming for the


hyper-real, and the resulting artwork feels invitingly immersive. Gorgeous endpapers reminiscent of medieval tapestries dotted with hares, foxes and meadow flowers bookend a series of narrative spreads, where readers are invited to experience Hare’s surroundings and join her in keeping watch for predators. This quietly impressive book is well


worth sharing and will encourage readers to appreciate the


natural


world. It may inspire the writing of new poems, too! CFH


Clean Up! HHHHH


Nathan Bryon, ill. Dapo Adeola, Puffin, 32pp, 978 0 241 34589 £6.99, pbk


What more timely a book to inspire us all, from tinies to grandparents! The message comes loud and clear:


‘When you work as a team, you can change the world.’ Little Rocket is full of excitement as her family sets off on holiday, visiting her Jamaican grandparents. The family arrives at their animal sanctuary and whale watching tours, and Rocket is fascinated by all the creatures her grandparents are nursing back to health. She listens attentively as Grampy tells her they never touch wild animals unless they need to be rescued or cared for. {Big bro Jamal appears on every page, his nose and eyes focused solely on his phone…} When Rocket finds a baby turtle trapped in plastic, she is saddened as Grampy tells her that plastic is ruining their islands. Many creatures, including whales, no longer come to their seas. A following spread shows a beach devoid of humans but littered with plastics. Hooray for Rocket! Next day she is fired up, and begins a clean up of that beach, telling visitors that almost half the rubbish in the sea comes from careless people. She states that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean! Soon lots of new friends join in, collecting plastic from every corner of the beach. What a clean up crew. For everyone on the island wants to save the sealife and bring back the whales. The book closes with three simple ways each and every one of us can help clear up the world’s seas and beaches, here and everywhere. This inspirational story is


humorous yet thoughtful depictions of Rocket and family. Adeola’s


pictures are


illustrated throughout with her extended


full


of movement and purpose, and his Rocket becomes an endearing character. Readers will want to follow big bro’s participation through the story, humorously depicted! Children will relate to the fact that they, like Rocket, can make a difference. It starts with just the determination to make that difference. A splendid, inspirational book. GB


Books for Keeps No.244 September 2020 21


go indoors to have a wee, they don’t return, and after a while, the two toys decide it would be better to go into the house too. But as it is now very dark, they get lost, and furthermore, there is something creepy out in the dark. What will happen? Will the girls find their toys in time? Imaginative illustrations are beautifully produced, and there is much humour in the story, but I did wonder in the end if Duck and Penguin had learned any lessons from their scare and if they had become friends. Not at all clear, and I suspect they still feel much the same about each other. Not a ‘moral’ lesson then, but a fun story about warring toys. ES


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