reviews 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued

there? When you’re as adaptable and determined as she is, life really can take you anywhere! Imaginatively evoking the sights,

sounds and textures of inter-war Paris from an unusual viewpoint, this quirky book has much to offer. Intriguing vocabulary is employed throughout, from the snippets lying on the atelier floor to caterwauling in the catacombs, and although the bare

the story are accessible to younger children, older

there’s readers, plenty too. Piet Grobler’s

illustrations add more than a dash of sophisticated je-ne-sais-quoi to the experience: his cats were born fighting over fish-heads, and their expressive fluidity and joie-de-vivre is matched by a potential for capricious disorder that unnerves as much as it pleases. These

disreputable characters are

far from being the cute little kitties of many storybooks. They are ‘dancing the night away in the most amazing outfits’ sewn by ‘very sharp claws’ and will appeal to curious readers who enjoy the unexpected. Paris Cat draws on factual

information about two of the most celebrated performers in the city at this time, and short biographies of Edith Piaf and Josephine Baker are included for those who want to know more. An appealing collage map of the city featuring the locations of Cat’s favourite

‘poissoneries’ alongside

the more usual landmarks is also included. CFH

Octopus Shocktopus HHHH

Peter Bently, ill. Steven Lenton, Nosy Crow, 32pp, 9781788002684 £6.99 pbk

This is a lovely story and a perfect, pertinent

one that accepting differences, octopus would

welcoming and kind to one and all. It’s a quirky, pretty bonkers idea an

land on

anybody’s roof but if one were to I would quite like this one as it is fluorescent orange! The story is told in rhyme so it would be great

to enjoy

for 2020 about being

a beautiful Christmas Octopus with lights. Soon people come for miles to see the marvellous octopus-even the neighbour changes her mind. But then one day the octopus just

goes away out of the blue. There’s a great surprise at the end so I won’t spoil it for you. Steven Lenton’s illustrations are

bones of to interest

very appealing. The luminous octopus really works with the background of more detailed illustrations. Each page has lots to look out for including a very special little dog who is mentioned in the dedication. A very enjoyable book with a heart-warming message. SG

The Littlest Yak HHHH

Lu Fraser ill. Kate Hindley, Simon and Schuster, 32pp, 9781471182617, £6.99 pbk

This is a delightful picture book with the addition of a variety of hats featuring throughout too. It’s a book about Gertie, the littlest yak who lives with big yaks and they all wear super cool hats. Gertie wants to grow up so that she’s not the smallest yak any more and is in quite a hurry to do it. She believes that it will be much better and she will be more capable when she is older. So it’s a great book for lots of PSHE and a lovely one for parents who will understand Mummy yak

reassuring: saying she’s got

plenty of time to do all those things and to grow up slowly. It’s also a book about celebrating individual talents and realising we all have special skills-big or small. In order to grow up Gertie devises

a ‘growing up’ plan. The rhyme really comes into its own on the pages although it is lively and engaging through the whole book. It just works really sweetly with the little pictures of Gertie eating veg, hopping, skipping and all endeavouring to grow up more quickly. My favourite page is her sitting on top of a pile of books….”and she read lots of books to make her thoughts grow (Because grown ups have big things to think and to know).” Kate Hindley’s illustrations

are together

but also makes it a good one to read by yourself as there are lots of supportive word clues from rhyme and obviously the illustrations help along the way too. It begins with an octopus landing

on a house and a neighbour clearly stating

‘An octopus does NOT

belong.’ So the neighbours calls the fire brigade to get rid of the octopus resulting in some sad pictures


the octopus being bombarded by water jets but still hanging on for dear life with its tentacles. However, everyone

soon realises that that gets the

octopus has many skills, not least plenty of tentacles which are much better than two arms. The octopus rescues a teddy


down the loo, it can play football, provide washing lines and then be

Teatime Around highly accessible

quirky and lively - they really bring the pages to life. The layout has a range of sizes to the pictures which makes is visually appealing too. It’s a really sweet story where Gertie, of course, comes to realise that there are good things about being small when she is called upon as the only one able to run a rescue mission. The woolly hats with their dangly decorations just really add to the feel of the book which is a fun and feel good all round read. SG

Teatime Around the World HHHH

Denyse Waissbluth, ill. Chelsea O’Byrne, Greystone Kids, 40pp, 978 177164 601 7, £12.99, hbk

the World is a and

attractive celebration of tea drinking and the rituals and ceremonies associated

with it, throughout the world. From the opening rhyme: ‘Tea for one, tea for two’, the poetic, lighthearted text steers the reader through the book supported

by world of the tea butter tea in Tibet, very attractive

illustrations. Readers are taken on a virtual tour

drinking: from to spicy sorrel

in the Caribbean. Ceremonies and traditions around tea are explored, we meet the chai wallahs (street sellers) in Indian streets,

visit a Japanese

tea ceremony and find out about the history of afternoon tea in the UK. Interesting details about how tea

is served are included, such as the tradition of pouring from up high in Malaysia or filtering through a ‘sock’ in Hong Kong. Variations are described, such as the inclusion of flavourings, whether tea is served hot or cold, with or without milk and the development of other infusions or ‘tisanes’ inspired by hibiscus tea from South Sudan. For those keen to find out more

there is additional information about tea and its history at the back of the book. SMc

To the Island HHHH

Patricia Forde, ill. Nicola Bernadelli, Little Island 32pp., 978-1-912417-51-3. £14.95 hdbk

Patricia Forde loves living in Galway, and here she retells the local myth of the appearance every seven years of Hy Brasil (nothing to do with Brazil: Hy means Island, and the name may come from the old Irish Ui Bresal) in Galway Bay. Red haired Fia looked out of her

window one night, and longed to see the island. She crept out of bed and went down to the quay, and, feeling a magical pull, walked on a moonbeam, hopping from star to star, and reached Hy Brasil. Magical creatures strode about, and she rode on the back of a gilded butterfly. All this is beautifully illustrated by Nicola Bernadelli. Fey boys and girls led Fia on a dance, and ‘a boy with eyes like summer puddles’ held her hand and took her into the sea. Red hair streaming, ‘she danced up to the clear night sky where wishes are pinned to stars, and stardust tickled her nose …’ She saw the town below, and again stepped on a moonbeam to return home. Looking back, she watched Hy Brasil as it ‘slowly, oh so slowly, slipped beneath the sea’. The reader may indeed wonder whether it was a dream, but there are tendrils of foliage on her pillow… This book was commissioned as

part of the Galway 2020 European City of

Culture programme, and

every child starting primary school in Galway in September 2020 has been given a copy. It has also inspired a song written by Galway musician Anna Mullarkey, but events have, of course, been curtailed. The language is lyrical and lovely and this will be good to read aloud and share. DB

Never Show a T-Rex a Book HHHHH

Rashmi Sirdeshpande, ill. Diane Ewen, Puffin, 32pp, 978 0 241 39266-9, £6.99 pbk

This book all

should children be shared everywhere! by It is a

powerhouse of super silly scenarios to delight all readers, and will show the endless possibilities in the world of the imagination. ‘What would happen if you showed a T-Rex a book? Well, she won’t know what to do with it, will she?’ But teach that dinosaur to read, and the world indeed becomes her oyster. She can travel

far and

wide, through time and space, and become very, VERY clever! She might tire of being a dinosaur and may become an artist, a doctor, architect, computer scientist or an astronaut… even become Prime Minister! Oh yes, and in this last role, she would have libraries everywhere! And she would want all her friends to learn to read too. Then what would happen? Can you imagine? The child that begins this laugh-out- loud adventure has a vivid imagination that shows there really are no limits to where one can go, in a creative mind. The playful text is illustrated with great attention to detail in gloriously vibrant colours, the partnership between the author and illustrator is perfect. Each feature is outlined in black then painted in water colour and acrylics, the whole embellished

the girl’s imagination we see a huge variety

of objects,

using Photoshop. from carrots

In to

trumpets, from planets to pirate ships; and readers can see the titles of the books T-Rex borrows from the library range from Funny Poems to Beowulf, from Coppelia to Mega Maths, from football to origami. No wonder she becomes so clever! This is a book to travel far and wide, to linger long over, one that all teachers and librarians will want to share liberally, proving the transformative power of books. GB

The Runaway Pea Washed Away


Kjartan Poskitt, ill. Alex Willmore, Simon and Schuster, 32pp, 978 1 4711 9480 1, £6-99 pbk

The bestselling and award-nominated Pea is back, ready

for another

hilarious adventure! The partnership of

author and illustrator works a

dream, and together a winner of a picture book is created. The text bounces along merrily just as does the pea, down the plug hole and into a dirty watery underworld. He is joined on this adventure by a washed away spider, his eight legs too wobbly to hold him up under the onslaught of water as it sloshes down the pipes. Spider sits on the pea’s back and once bounced out of an overflow, they encounter in turn a duck, a fish, and a frog. With his back legs, the frog gives a great WHACK! And pea and spider go plipperty plop as they bounce on the water, unable to stop. Boris the dog is at hand who inadvertently takes the pea back to

Books for Keeps No.244 September 2020 23

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