Atinuke and Birgitta Sif
Atinuke uses an unusual narrator for her heartwarming story that’s set in and around a small, urban park, it’s Hugo the pigeon. Hugo is a park warden and every day, through all the changing seasons he patrols the park looking after various humans –
that’s his particular Spring task, while in summer he has to clean up the mess left by picnickers and his autumn days are occupied with child care (to give their mothers a rest).
On chilly wintry days Hugo sees it as his role to visit the apartments near the park to remind the residents that spring isn’t too far off.
At one window though the curtains never open but Hugo knows someone hides whenever he knocks.
Then one day the curtains part to reveal a small girl whom Hugo treats to his ‘Spring-is-coming’ dance moves.
Not long after the bird is late to arrive and the child leans right out to look for him. So enthusiastic is his ‘here I am’ dance that Hugo fails to notice another arrival.
Happily Hugo lives to finish his story but receives an injury that completely changes the lonely life of his young rescuer, for the better. No wonder Hugo loves his job.
Birgitta Sif’s illustrations are the perfect complement for this offbeat tale – gently humorous and alive with deliciously quirky details at every page turn; and her colour palette is always beautiful, no matter which season she portrays.
Abrams Books for Young Readers
Here’s a delightfully tongue-in-cheek tale of Princess, a well and truly pampered moggy: she has not one but four ladies with whom she shares her time. That involves plenty of work but Princess doesn’t mind for she receives more than her share of treats for participating in ‘grooming days’ with Millie, running errands with Molly,
and a spot of bird watching with Merthel. Band practice time spent with Maridl is the noisiest activity but Princess has ‘everything under control’.
Then one day, horror of horrors, Princess discovers that her favourite napping spot has been usurped by a ‘stray’. Not only that though, this creature seems to have taken over other roles too.
When her efforts to retrain the ladies fail, Princess ups and leaves in a jealous sulk. However things don’t quite go smoothly when she searches for an alternative place to take her catnap and the moggy finds herself in a very uncomfortable situation.
Fortunately the young interloper has an acute sense of hearing and picks up the ‘MEOWW!!!’ issuing from the feline and all ends happily with four ladies becoming five.
Susi Schaeffer’s bold, lively digital art is given a textured feel by the addition of hand-painted designs; the older human characters are delightfully eccentric and the story will appeal particularly to cat lovers young and not so young.