Two Picture Books - New for 2014
“Suvi and the Sky Folk” by Sandra Horn, illustrated by Muza Ulasowski
“How to Catch a Dragon” by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Ed Eaves
Reviewed by Pauline Chandler
New for 2014 are these two contrasting picture books, one thoroughly grounded in a family life, when Albie visits the library with his Mum, and the other blending a Scandinavian folk tale with the favourite ‘I’m scared! Where’s Mummy?’ narrative, as used in such popular stories as ‘Owl Babies’ and ‘Come On, Daisy’.
Sandra Horn’s story, “Suvi and the Sky Folk” is a delight. Suvi, the baby reindeer, struggles to survive with the rest of the herd, on scarce food supplies, during the ‘long dark’ of winter. Her mother warns her to stay close, but, entranced by the Northern Lights and startled by a long loud howl, Suvi bounds away from the herd and is soon lost. When the wolf threatens her, then suddenly disappears, Suvi recalls Grand-deer’s tale of the Sky Folk who dance in the Northern Lights and snatch away earthbound creatures. She is certain that the Sky Folk have taken the wolf. Restored to the herd, Suvi recounts her adventure. The truth is a little different from Grand-deer’s story. Nothing to worry young readers though: Old Wolf survives his fall.
There is so much to enjoy in this lovely tale. The text is simple but lyrical. Winter is the ‘long dark’. Predators are ‘yellow eyes and sharp teeth” who come ‘slinking’. On the ground shines the light from a ‘scattering of stars’. There’s humour too, in Suvi’s conversations with the other creatures on the tundra, and there’s also factual information about the lives of the animals of the north. This is a beautifully written adventure story with a satisfying ending, which young children will love.
The illustrations complement the text perfectly, with the focus on Suvi’s face and expressions, inviting the reader to engage with her feelings throughout. Highly recommended for children aged 5-7. Available now from Sandra Horn’s website: www.tattybogle.co.uk and from Tate Publishing, from Feb 9th. 2014.
‘How To Catch a Dragon’ is another of Caryl Hart’s riotous romps through childhood. Like Shirley Hughes, she focuses on everyday experiences that children share, told through a child’s eyes. Albie has to draw a dragon for his homework, but he’s not sure where to start. He’s never seen a dragon. When Mum calls him to go with her to the library, Albie takes his drawing along. Maybe he’ll find some ideas in the library. He makes a new friend, whose imagination takes them into an amazing adventure with a grizzly bear, a hairy troll, knights and, finally, dragons! Albie soon finishes his homework.
‘How to Catch a Dragon’ is a laugh-out-loud book that children will love. It has a serious message though, about libraries and about friendship, with Albie and his friend looking out for each other on this shared adventure. It’s a perfect read-aloud book, with plenty of opportunities for funny voices and sound effects. Ed Eaves’s eye-catching illustrations are bright, colourful and full of action and humour. Highly recommended for children aged 5-7
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