The Little Lost Kitten by Holly Webb illustrated by Abigail Hookham
Holly Webb has now been writing stories for children for twenty years and she knows that animals have an appeal for many young readers. Her new book in the Little Gem series for Barrington Stoke is just right for newly independent readers of 5+. This gently told story of a little girl and a stray kitten will most certainly appeal to little cat lovers.
Lucy and her dad are both missing their old cat Patch who had been a much loved member of their little family for many years. When Lucy spots a small grey kitten walking on the roadside through the mist she wonders at first if she has imagined it. Then the kitten appears in their back garden and Lucy tenderly cares for it but doesn’t tell her dad as she is worried about upsetting him. Over the coming days Lucy grows to love the little cat and is broken hearted when it suddenly disappears. Should she tell her father or should she try to find her new pet by herself? All is resolved with a happy ending that this age group need to read.
This is a lovely little package for new readers, its chunky size is appealing and the gentle illustrations by Abigail Hookham fit the tender story perfectly plus there is a Spot the Difference puzzle at the front of the book for added enjoyment. The death of the family’s old pet is dealt with sensitively as is the relationship between the father and the young child.
Next to Alice by Anne Fine illustrated by Gareth Conway
Children’s books featuring a school setting are undoubtedly popular with young readers but they can also be helpful guides to coping with the everyday issues that children encounter. Multi award winning author and former Children’s Laureate Anne Fine has a wealth of experience and is able to incorporate her wisdom in the books she writes. Next to Alice besides being an entertaining tale conveys an important message that applies to us all, namely that we should not be too quick to pre-judge others.
When Ben is asked to move desks and sit next to Alice in his class he is initially more than a little reluctant. He thinks that Alice is ‘scary’. She criticises his poor handwriting, his speedy eating and his rushed drawing. Poor Ben is not happy. However as he starts to takes Alice’s advice he gradually realises that she may be right. Under Alice’s beady eye and with her encouragement Ben improves in all areas and even starts to enjoy her company. Perhaps a new friend has been made?
Anne Fine successfully treads the fine line between showing her readers how, with a little effort, life can be rewarding without preaching or becoming didactic in tone. There is humour in the writing and she has captured the dynamics found in the classroom well. The illustrations contain some well observed depictions of school life too. An entertaining story for readers aged 7+
The Broken Dragon by Karen McCombie illustrated by Anneli Bray
Karen McCombie is another bestselling author who has a knack for incorporating life lessons in her thoughtful stories. Also set in a school The Broken Dragon takes its inspiration from the ancient art of ‘kintsugi’, the Japanese tradition of restoring broken pottery with gold.
Tyra now lives with her Nan and is starting at a new school a prospect that worries her as she wonders whether or not she will fit in and be able to make new friends. Tyra is full of life and can be a little bouncy and loud at times, she loves wearing bright colours and has a passion for dragons of all types. She collects dragon treasures from jewellery to books, from puzzles to toys and all of them are precious to her. When Nan gives her beautiful china snow dragon Tyra decides to take it to school to show her classmates in the hope that they will be interested in it and consequently in her. But disaster strikes and the beautiful dragon is smashed. Poor Tyra needs to mend her beloved dragon and she still needs new friends too. This lovely story is not only about repairing things but also repairing people too and that beauty does not always rely on perfection. Another title suitable for readers aged 7+.
I should like to thank the publishers, Barrington Stoke and Kirstin Lamb for my review copies. All three books are published on 2nd February.
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