Big Dance / Bea by the Sea / The Roller-Coaster Ride

There are three recent releases from Child’s Play – thanks to the publisher for sending them for review

Big Dance
Aoife Greenham

As the Big Dance draws near, everyone seems excited about their moves, except young Pippa. Despite what her Poppa says she doesn’t think she has a dance inside. To prove his point, he decides to show her what Kit, Hip, Skip and Whizz and the others can do.

However, Pippa remains unconvinced about her own ability so Poppa then demonstrates his dance. “I’m not anything like that. I’m just a ME” muses Pippa but nonetheless she finds herself trying just a little dance and initially things look as though they’re going well but then she decides it’s no go nonsense. Her pals concede that it may be so, but add that it’s also fun – and inclusive. “It’s all of us … where we are all the same and all different … we can all be ourselves together. It’s where we all belong.” How aptly they put it but is it sufficient to encourage the one that’s still missing? What do you think?
Reassuring, all encompassing and a reminder of the importance of having the freedom to be yourself (something not everybody has) as well as a delightful demonstration of the joy of joining in. There’s plenty to talk about be that at home or in a school setting, when this quirky delight is shared with youngsters.

Bea by the Sea
Jo Byatt

Young Bea is a lion expert, thinking about the creatures all day long. When her mum suggests a day at the beach Bea would much prefer to stay at home playing lions especially as she doesn’t like the gritty, scratchy sand at all. Nonetheless she packs her lion paraphernalia, puts on her wellies and decides the best way is to pretend she too is a lion. Off they go with Bea concentrating on hopping from rock to rock rather than noticing the awesome lion sculptures her mum points out.
Suddenly she trips and falls flat on her face scattering her lion things all over the place.

As she brushes herself off a loud voice introduces itself as Sand Lion, suggests she leave her boots off and leads the way towards the sea. Gradually Bea sees as they play together, that sand can be great fun and they spend the entire day enjoying its possibilities, the Sand Lion also making a discovery.
The following day Bea returns eagerly to the beach but the tide has changed everything. No Sand Lion to be seen but Bea knows the best thing to do …
Bea is a delightful character and Jo Byatt’s portrayal of her is superb: I love the resemblance between the Lion’s mane and her hairstyle as well as the way she captures movement in her illustrations.
When you share this lovely book make sure you allow time to explore the factual endpapers.

The Roller-Coaster Ride
David Broadbent

As Vincent and his grandma journey in the purple bus towards the beach they talk of the exciting rides, especially Vincent’s favourite roller coaster, the boy eagerly anticipating and imagining its many interesting possibilities. However when they reach their Funland destination there’s a sign saying it’s closed for repairs. You can imagine Vincent’s disappointment, but Grandma offers encouragement and alternatives in the form of splendiferous ice-cream

and a play park, not to mention an unusual way of getting back to the bus stop.
I was quite surprised to see how accommodating Vincent is and impressed by his flexibility and positivity in not letting unforeseen circumstances completely ruin his day out: a great example to little ones. It’s good to see the author/illustrator’s inclusivity in his lively, brightly coloured scenes -I wonder how many of them will notice Vincent is differently abled on a first reading. The environmental positives include that the bus is electric, the charging points available, the cycle track, wetlands and wild life reserve all shown on the endpapers’ maps.

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