Panda At The Door / An Escape in Time

Panda At The Door
Sarah Horne
Chicken House

Pudding Panda is Edinburgh Zoo’s Star Attraction. She’s been happy with making the zoo visitors smile at her antics but now longs for a family of her own. Then she learns from keeper Gerald that she’s to be sent to China.
Maybe the answer is emulate her heroine Mary Poppins and become a nanny. Gerald thinks not, but then fails to lock Pudding’s cage …

Over on the other side of the city meanwhile, Callum is having a bad time: he’s being bullied; his parents are arguing – again – and performer Dad’s gone awol (something to do with bacon), plus, his little sister Tabby is intensely annoying. It’s Cal’s ninth birthday and all he receives is a measly certificate of adoption for a panda with instructions on how to email if there are any questions. Yes, he certainly has questions, the most pressing being, ‘when will I be happy again?’ Shortly after hitting SEND he falls asleep.

Next morning, DING DONG! who, or rather what, should be standing at the door? Not his missing father but a large panda offering to help. Mum’s reaction is to faint on the spot, but what better way to revive her than a timely spoonful of sugar?

Then the zoo puts out a message offering a huge reward for the safe return of a panda; everyone in the house, and even worse bully Mike Spiker, passing outside, hear the radio announcement. 

Now it’s not only Pudding in deep trouble, especially as Mike Spiker passes on the news to his dad. It’s up to Cal and his family to look after Pudding and keep her safe from the dastardly Spikers; but they also need to find Dad.

With mission ‘Going on a Dad Hunt’ successfully completed, can Pudding save the day? If she and Dad team up perhaps panda-monium can become a wonderfully clever panda-mime.

Dad’s punning predilection not withstanding, this is a thoroughly engaging story. Developed from an original idea from Vikki Anderson through the Big Idea Competition, the thought-provoking book was written and illustrated by Sarah Horne. The characterisation is great and the Mary Poppins quotes add to the fun.

An Escape in Time
Sally Nicholls, illustrated by Rachael Dean
Nosy Crow

By means of the mirror in their aunt’s hallway, brother and sister Alex and Ruby find themselves in a different historical period and in each story, have a task to perform before they can return to the present.

This their third time-slip adventure in this smashing series sees them plunged back to the Georgian era 1794/5, the time of the French Revolution and faced with having to help a far from happy French Countess escape the guillotine and find a safe home in Georgian England. 

But there’s a whole lot more that needs sorting out too in what proves to be a pretty chaotic situation that’s full of danger (not least for Ruby), romance (among the hymn books), heroics, the odd misunderstanding, not to mention some exceedingly uncomfortable Georgian underwear sans knickers though, if you’re female; oh! and plenty of stewed cucumbers!

As is characteristic of these Sally Nicholls stories, readers will enjoy plenty of humour, a pacy plot, a cast of highly colourful characters and a wealth of historical information along the way; not forgetting Rachael Dean’s smashing black and white illustrations.

Both books are great for KS2 either for solo reading or class read aloud.

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