The Boy Who Rescued a Rainbow

Red Reading Hub is thrilled to be participating in the Little Door Books blog tour for this lovely book

The Boy Who Rescued a Rainbow
Corrina Campbell
Little Door Books

Now who would have thought that a boy as small as the protagonist in this super story could rescue something so massive as a rainbow: well this little guy is both strong and fearless, indomitable you might say, for accompanied by his dog, he climbs mountains ever so tall and fights off the fiercest of dragons.

One day he comes upon something protruding from a tree; it’s a rainbow and it’s stuck fast, faded, and exceedingly raggedy. Now being a kind child, the boy very carefully frees the rainbow and puts it in his cart to take home. Once there he sets to work repairing the damage, matching, stitching and patching and then restoring its beautiful hues.

Together the boy and his rainbow friend have many adventures

but sadly the size of the rainbow diminishes little by little, until one day, it’s there no more. The boy hunts everywhere but to no avail. Puzzled he begins to grow angry; after all the care he’s given to the thing, why has it vanished without a word of thanks or even a farewell?

Looking skywards he cries out but there’s no sign of the rainbow. The boy is distraught but after everything he remains the strong fearless lad he’s always been, going about his adventuring once more until one day something gives him cause for joy …

As we accompany this small boy on his journey through love and loss, he discovers what it really means to be strong, brave and fearless: we readers truly empathise with the child, so close to him does Corrina Campbell make us feel in this magical book.

Rainbows are magical seeming things that occur when light is reflected, refracted and dispersed in airborne water droplets, which results in the light being split into a visible spectrum. Symbolically though they represent different things to different people – hope, thankfulness, peace, pride, mystery and more: I thought I’d ask some children for their ideas: Here are a few:
It means God will never flood the world again.
Rain and sunshine at the same time.
I want to know why some people think there’s the end of a rainbow.”
Thank you to the NHS.”
My nan’s jumper.”
Leprechauns and pots of gold” “My Dad’s favourite socks
The aurora borealis might be a bit like a rainbow

Make sure you check out all the other posts on this blog tour.

Escape: One Day We Had To Run

Thank you so much to Lantana Publishing for inviting me to take part in the Escape: One day We Had To Run blog tour. 

Escape: One Day We Had To Run
Ming & Wah and Carmen Vela
Lantana Publishing

For centuries, people have left their homes for such reasons as famine, slavery, war, intolerance, political turmoil and more recently, climate change. They had two things in common, their determination to search for a better life elsewhere, and their bravery.

This hugely inspiring, timely book tells a dozen stories of some of these seemingly ordinary human beings, starting with sisters Yusra and Sara Martini who fled the war-torn Syrian city of Damascus to Turkey where they boarded an overloaded dinghy bound for Greece. When the boat’s engine failed and to prevent it from capsizing, the girls plunged into the sea. Desperately holding on, and freezing cold, they helped direct the dinghy until it’s engine restarted and it eventually reached the shore. The girls later made it to Germany and Yusra swam in the Refugee Olympic team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Also escaping by sea were Chan Hak-chi and his girlfriend Ly Kit-hing who roped themselves together and swam for six hours across a shark-infested bay to reach Hong Kong, thus escaping famine and persecution in mainland China.
Another twosome was Hans and Margret Rey who, carrying the manuscript for the very first Curious George picture book, fled Paris on bikes just hours before the Nazi invasion of the city, cycling for days to reach the Spanish border from where with the money from selling their bikes they bought train tickets to Lisbon from whence they made their way by boat eventually reaching New York where twelve months later their book was published.
Escaping underground were Joachim Neumann and his girlfriend, members of a group of 57 East german students who tunnelled under the Berlin Wall from East to West Germany and freedom, through what is now known as Tunnel 57.

Those featured on other spreads – each escapee has one – include fleer from Kiribati, Ioane Teitiota, who became the first legal climate change refugee when granted special status by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

However the person I’ve chosen to highlight is Russom Keflezighi. He had supported Eritrean rebels in their protracted attempt to win independence from Ethiopia. Walking overland from war torn Eritrea at his wife’s insistence, Russom Keflezighi left his family, encountering many dangers before reaching Sudan, and then Italy. After five years he was reunited with his family and they settled in the USA where his son later became one of America’s greatest marathon runners.

Russom Keflezighi

I just can’t imagine the heartache and pain caused by the decision fleeing father Russom Keflezighi had to make in leaving all his loved ones behind, then walking vast distances every day under constant threat from enemy soldiers until he crossed the border into Sudan. The very thought of leaving behind my own family to do such a thing is just unbearable.
Dramatic, graphic style illustrations by Carmen Vela show escapers swimming, biking, walking, flying even, as they flee danger and this moving book fittingly concludes with two Articles from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights relating to movement and asylum.
ESCAPE: ONE DAY WE HAD TO RUN will be available in all good bookshops in the UK from May 6th and in the USA & CAN from May 4th! OR, buy your copy from Lantana’s online shop and donate a book to children who need books the most with your purchase:

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz
L.Frank Baum adapted by Meg McLaren and Sam Hay
Egmont Publishing

This is a version of the Baum classic like you’ve never seen or heard before.

In Meg Mclaren’s 21st century retelling, Dorothy has become Little Dot, a pre-schooler and it’s she who is indoors when the tornado whisks her home with her and Toto inside, up and away, far, far away to a strange land.
It’s there where she meets all manner of unusual characters, one of the first being the Good Witch from the North, identifiable by her starry cloak (as opposed to sparkly silver boots – those are worn by The Bad Witch that Dot’s house has just squashed).

The Good Witch tells Little Dot to go home forthwith but when Dot tells her that she has no idea of the way, instructs her to “Follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City and get help from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

Donning the Bad Witch’s silver boots, the little girl sets off accompanied by Toto. Thus begins their big adventure.
Before long they meet first, Lion, looking very worried, and shortly after, the talking Scarecrow without a brain.

They both join Dot on her journey, the former hoping the Wizard will make him braver, the latter hoping to be given a brain.

Their next encounter is with Tin Can, a diminutive being in need of a heart; he joins the journeyers and they cross a bridge.

Suddenly “Boo!” Out jumps the Even Worse Witch who’s been lying low, waiting to ambush them. Fearless Dot soon deals with her, courtesy of a host of ginormous jelly snakes that emerge from beneath the surface of the road

and a yogurt that she whips from her backpack and squirts at their assailant just in the nick of time.

Having seen the evil witch off, the friends proceed to the Emerald City wherein waits The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Dot tells him their story and is surprised to hear the wizard’s response: they’ve done the job themselves, they don’t need his help after all. He even awards each of them a ‘good work’ sticker.

Now there’s just one remaining matter; that of getting Dot and Toto home. Apparently Dot herself is wearing the answer to that …

Highlighting the importance of friendship, kindness, bravery and home, this is ideal for early years audiences who will be enchanted from the sparkly front cover right through to the satisfying ending. Along the way they’ll thoroughly enjoy meeting the unusual, mainly endearing, cast of characters as portrayed in Sam Hay’s engaging scenes.

Skyward: The Story of female Pilots in WW11

Skyward: The Story of Female Pilots in WW11
Sally Deng
Flying Eye Books

Here’s a beautifully produced, exciting book, based on real events, telling of three young women, Hazel, Marlene and Lilya, who pursue their dreams to become pilots and, countering gender stereotypes, go on to fly for their countries – the USA, England and Russia, in the Second World War.

First though they had to overcome, not only family ridicule but that of their governments and the armed forces.

“You’re taking all the jobs from our men!” Hazel was told by prejudiced people in powerful positions.

Even once they’d graduated it wasn’t all thrills; there were spills too …

and enormous risks.

But the three and the other female pilots did their utmost with little recognition and paltry pay, and in so doing paved the way for generations of young women.

Sally Deng, whose debut book this is, has, like her subjects herein, set the bar high for herself. Her carefully considered, inspiring telling coupled with her charismatic art style make for a powerful read.

A ‘must include’ for any World War Two topic in schools and a book I’d hope will be shared and celebrated, along with its subjects, by all who want to fly the flag for women’s achievements and for following your dreams.

The Little Pioneer

The Little Pioneer
Adam Hancher
Lincoln Children’s Books

Adam Hancher’s story, set in 19th century US, tells of one small wagon train heading off into the West and is inspired by the accounts of real-life pioneers.

Its narrator is a fiery-haired young girl who, following the death of her father, must leave everything familiar and head west to make a new life in California.

The long journey on foot, horseback and wagon with her mother, younger brothers and three other families is gruelling and full of challenges, not the least of which for the narrator at the outset, is getting used to the wild ways of their guide, Mr Reed.

However it’s not long before a treacherous swirling river forces her to change her opinion of the man and a firm bond is formed, not only between the narrator and guide but also with their fellow travellers.
Mr Reed actually becomes the girl’s saviour not once but twice during their time on the trail.

By the time their journey ends the narrator has learned SO much, not only about the wild and her fellow pioneers, but having had to stand being left alone, about herself.

The tale is beautifully told using language of the time, ‘Weary and footsore, we stopped to rest.’ but it’s Hancher’s superb artistry that make this such a compellingly beautiful book.
The girl speaks little about her loss but one senses it all around during their travels through the bleak landscapes of the journey. The dramatic, textured illustrations and Hancher’s switch of colour palette – that perilous Platte river crossing,

the family-like gathering around the camp fire …

and the bleak surrealism of the shady spot the narrator wakes in to discover her aloneness, speak for themselves.

Powerful, poignant and perfect for reading with young audiences many of whom will know little of those pioneering days, this is a book to share and savour.

Look Out, It’s a Dragon!

Look Out, It’s a Dragon!
Jonny Lambert
Little Tiger Press

It’s always a pleasure to open a package and discover a new Jonny Lambert picture book. This, his latest, is something of a departure in that it stars a mythical, rather than a ‘real’ animal although there are plenty of the latter herein too.

Without further ado let me introduce Saffi. She’s an atypical dragon who isn’t interested in capturing princesses, nor in crushing castles, and she’s had quite enough of bottom-bruising rocky mountains. So off she flies in search of a more hospitable environment in which to live.

That is just what she thinks she’s found when she lands rather ungracefully in a sunny woodland. The forest animals however, think otherwise and start fleeing for their lives.

Suddenly Saffi hears a squeaky “Oi! Knobbly knickers! You can’t stay here!” from behind her. It’s Mouse expressing an opinion held by all the forest inhabitants on account of her fiery dragon nature. The dragon does her best to persuade the little creature otherwise and has almost won him over when disaster strikes in the form of a twitchy nose that ends in a very forceful sneeze that scares Mouse …

and damages Warbler’s plumage.

Saffi sets off in pursuit only wreaking more havoc …

until the animals have had enough and the poor well-intentioned dragon is sent packing in no uncertain terms.

Later though, something happens that puts the forest animals and their habitat in real peril.

Who can save them now?

A drama that embodies themes of prejudice, friendship, the dangers of stereotyping and bravery.

Gentle humour pervades the dragon-dominated, mixed media illustrations although even the very tiny participants make their presence felt strongly in the unfolding drama. As always in Lambert’s books, body language is superbly done throughout.

Your heart really does go out to Saffi in her attempts to find a new home so you will be happy to learn that there’s a dragon template that can be used for children to create their very own Saffi character. I’d suggest making a whole diorama and suspending the dragon somewhere therein.

I’ve signed the charter  

Cracking Seasonal Reads


Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Great Kerfuffle Christmas Kidnap
John Dougherty and David Tazzyman
Oxford University Press
It’s Christmas Eve and all’s right with the world. Right? Well not quite.
When Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face wake up it’s after midnight (so technically they can call it Christmas Day) with cries of “He’s been! He’s been!”, it takes but a few seconds for them to discover that this is not the case: Father Christmas has definitely not visited their abode, and that’s despite the pair having been extra good that year. All they see where those presents should have been is a great big pile of nothing, absolutely zilch.
Obviously Father Christmas must be in some kind of trouble – think dastardly badgers – and it’s up to Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face to come to the rescue, find Santa and save Christmas for all the inhabitants on the little island of Great Kerfuffle.
As with previous books in the series, this one is full of wonderfully off-the-wall characters, bonkers jokes, evil-sounding laughter, magic and mayhem, crazy dialogue and perfect comic timing to boot. What’s more it’s illustrated by the brilliant David Tazzyman whose seemingly scribble illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to John Dougherty’s clever and deliciously silly writing style.
A seasonal cracker if ever there was one.

Altogether different but equally worth seeking out is:


There May Be a Castle
Piers Torday
Quercus Children’s Books
It’s Christmas Eve: a family – mum, two sisters and a brother – are on the way to visit the grandparents. Violet the eldest is dressed as a pirate, toddler Esme has a passion for chocolate and Mouse, a smaller than average, highly imaginative eleven year old is still in his robot pyjamas; Mum is at the wheel. Snow is falling fast, the visibility is bad, but the journey across the moors should be fairly short.
As it often does on such occasions, bickering begins and Mum loses control of the car and it spins off the road. Mouse is thrown from the car by the crash but everyone else is trapped inside.
When he comes to, Mouse finds himself in a magical landscape with no snow and no car, just a peculiar sheep named Bar, a talking one-eyed horse called Nonky, a garrulous minstrel, a size-changing dinosaur; oh, and there may be a castle. Thus begins Mouse’s quest to find that castle despite not knowing quite why.
Back at the scene of the accident, Violet is on a mission to save her mother who is unconscious and bleeding, and little Esme, who keeps demanding chocolate. To do this she has to use her knowledge of a very fierce pirate woman, which, harnessed with her own imagination, gives her the strength she needs to cope.
Without giving away what happens let’s leave those two wonderful, very brave characters in their spellbinding wintry tale of hope, courage, the power of the imagination and the stories we tell ourselves.
Brilliantly imaginative and totally immersive it’s a beautifully written book; read it and you’ll be hooked, but be warned, you’re on something of an emotional rollercoaster.

Raven Child and The Snow Witch

Raven Child and the Snow Witch
Linda Sunderland and Daniel Egnéus
Templar Publishing
Right from its textured sparkly cover, there’s something of a Russian folk tale feel to this magical, chilling story of love, loss and bravery, from debut picture book author, Linda Sunderland, and illustrator Daniel Egnéus.
Travel with me over frozen lakes and shimmery mountains and through the Forest of a Thousand Eyes to the Snow Garden, home of young Anya and her parents. Despite her chilly surroundings, Anya is kept warm by the dress of feathers woven for her by her friends the ravens whose language she has learned. On the first day of spring Anya’s mother sets out towards the glacier on a mission to collect gentian flowers, her daughter’s favourites, accompanied only by the ravens.


Anya and her father remain at home and after a while, the child falls sleep and dreams. She dreams of hearing her mother’s voice telling of her capture by the Snow Witch and this is followed by terrible news from one of the ravens that had gone with her mother.
Anya tends him and listens to his story. What he tells her has father and daughter setting out next morning on a frightening and dangerous journey together in search of Anya’s missing parent.


It turns out though, as the two learn during the course of their journey, that Anya’s mother is not the only person missing: a whole village’s children have been stolen away. Anxious not to waste time waiting for the villagers, Anya, accompanied only by the raven she’s named Broken Wing and Half Tail (a fox rescued on the way) travels on, until finally they come upon tell-tale signs that their search has brought them to the right place.


Deep inside the glacier, Anya must confront her deepest fears; but is she a match for the Snow Witch? Can she rescue her mother and the children from the clutches of the evil woman …
Totally enchanting from cover to cover, this book will grip you right from its introductory verses to Anya’s final flight with the ravens. Daniel Egnéus’ haunting scenes of icy and snowy landscapes and Anya’s encounters with the animals she befriends are spell-bindingly beautiful.


Nothing Can Frighten a Bear


Nothing Can Frighten a Bear
Elizabeth Dale and Paula Metcalf
Nosy Crow
The title claim may hold true for most bears but Baby Bear in this rhyming tale is more than a little alarmed when he’s woken by an enormous roar. It’s a monster, he decides, and calls for help. His parents do their best to reassure him but Baby Bear insists on an exploratory search to rule out any possibilities. Off stride the family – Daddy, Mum and three cubs marching through the trees with Dad in the lead confidently stating, “there’s no monster there. And anyway, nothing can frighten a bear.


But as the journey continues and the group encounter various creatures – none of them monsters – the number in their party starts to diminish. First Mum gets tangled in a tree, then Ben falls in the stream,


young Grace is stuck in some oozy mud leaving just two – Daddy and Baby. Suddenly they realise they’re alone. Could the others have gone back home or has a monster got them?
Youngsters delight in being in the know while Dad and Baby panic, first at that possibility, and then at the sight of what is right there in the moonlight …


Dad’s not looking quite so fearless now … and it’s left to Baby Bear to do the reassuring. Then it’s a case of back to bed but is that the end of those noises in the night?
Elizabeth Dale’s narrative bounces along nicely and Paula Metcalf catches the humour and mock scariness so well in her nocturnal scenes of the alternately fearless and fearful bear family: it’s all in the eyes and the body language.

The Storm Whale in Winter

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The Storm Whale in Winter
Benji Davies
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
Some friendships are forever, no matter the distance between the two friends. Such is the case with young Noi who, in The Storm Whale, formed a strong bond with a young whale washed ashore on the beach near his home and later returned to the sea by the boy and his dad. Now with the coming of winter, Noi’s father sets out on one last trip in his fishing boat, but his failure to return by nightfall alarms his son as he waits and watches from his window.


Seeing something far out at sea, Noi knows he has to leave the safety of his bedroom and braving the snowstorm raging outside, he goes, as fast as the icy shore will allow, towards the water’s edge. Frozen sea prevents him launching his boat and so Noi continues on foot and is soon lost, or so he thinks. Suddenly he spies in the flickering lamplight, a strange shape:


it’s his dad’s boat, stuck in the ice but there’s nobody aboard. Nobody aboard, but Noi is not alone: all around the boat is the entire whale family including his friend, the storm whale.


Another storm has brought the friends together once more. But that’s not the only re-union to take place that freezing night …


However, it’s certainly one that father and son will talk about often.
Once again, Benji Davies has created a truly heart-warming tale, a tale that celebrates the power of love and friendship and the courage it can engender in the face of adversity. What superbly atmospheric scenes of swirling snow and icy seas grace the pages of this long-awaited wintry sequel.




Egmont Publishing
CRACK! The ice breaks and Polar Bear and his two friends are swept away far from their home, losing everything they hold dear. They’re frightened, our narrator tells us but they cannot any longer stay in those icy surroundings: it’s imperative they find somewhere else to live and they must keep their spirits up no matter how scary things get …


Then land is in sight; but will they be able to find refuge here? Sadly not …


On they go, still hopeful but again their hopes are thwarted, not once but twice … and things are getting desperate …

Surely there’s somewhere they’re not “too bear-ish”, “too furry” or “too tall”? somewhere with plenty of room for all, where things aren’t too much bother …
Finally as the last remains of the iceberg turn to water, the bears find an empty island, one whereon they can make a home for themselves and …
With a beautiful twisting finale, this highly topical book is a must have for all early years setting and primary classes. It needs to be shared, discussed and shared again to help everyone understand the issues and challenges migrants face, no matter from whence they come, or go. We MUST empathise, we MUST help, we MUST open our arms and welcome them …
This moving, thought-provoking book is a step along the way to understanding and compassion; and thanks be to the brilliantly talented Barroux for creating it.


Monster in the Hood


Monster in the Hood
Steve Antony
Oxford University Press
When a notice appears in town warning of THE MONSTER IN THE HOOD, Sammy Squirrel, Henri Hedgehog and Marvin Mouse all want to see the creature for themselves. Sammy dares it to show itself: “Come out, come out, wherever you are! You won’t scare us!” he shouts. The only response is a squeak but that’s from a pack of rats, one of which warns of the large orange-eyed monster. “The monster in the hood … grumbly and rumbly and will eat you for dinner.” Does this scare the pants off the fearless trio? Most certainly not; it’s Henri’s turn to address the monster this time and as he does so,


there comes a screech, which turns out to be a cloud of bats. They add ‘huge shaggy hands’ to the monster’s attributes but do nothing to ruffle the cool headedness of the three monster seekers.


Marvin Mouse tries his luck at calling for the creature and no sooner has he completed his challenge than a ‘clutter of cats’ comes by with words about a ‘big scary mouth’ – to no avail of course. The intrepid trio try calling in unison and out of the silence steps …


Yes, it definitely matches the description given by the rat, bat and cat but none of them has given the vital piece of information that makes all the difference; and that related to what it didn’t have – a friend. Seemingly the other animals were wrong about what the monster really wanted after all – or, were they?
I love the night-time urban setting and the wacky characters of this twisted cautionary tale and Steve Antony’s choice of colour palette is, as ever, spot on. Every time I see a new book from this guy, I think ‘that’s my favourite’ but then along comes another and another and …

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Wolfie the Bunny


Wolfie The Bunny
Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora
Andersen Press
As the story opens we find the Bunny family outside their apartment where they discover a wolf cub on the front door step. The Bunny parents are delighted: “He’s going to eat is all up!” warns daughter Dot.
The following morning while Mama feeds it a breakfast of carrots, Papa is busy photographing the newcomer; but young Dot sticks to her assertion about them being his preferred repast, and when her friends come to visit they are of the same opinion.


Dot decides to go and play at her friend’s house leaving Wolfie, who unbeknown to her, cries. On her return, while the parents continue drooling over the rapidly growing, carrot-scoffing Wolfie, he shadows her every move, even to the shops …


At this point it does begin to look as though young Dot might after all be correct in her assertion; but it’s not her that Wolfie has his eyes on. There’s something very large there and his dinner of choice is not Dot but Wolfie himself.
Time to make a hasty escape Dot? Errm actually, not. Instead the young miss stands up for, and fiercely defends her (adopted) family member,


showing the large bear that she really does mean business of the consuming kind and off he dashes but then …


Is that the end after all ??
Actually, fortunately for Dot, this is a totally tongue-in-cheek kind of tale where all ends, let’s say, rather satisfactorily. OHora’s illustrations rendered in bold acrylics in a fairly restricted range of colours (grey, reds, green and gold) heighten the dramatic impact of the deliciously droll telling.
I love the way readers are kept wondering right up to the very last page; love the ever-scowling Dot and the immediately endearing Wolfie, love the whole thing in fact. It’s a cracking good read aloud whether you choose to share it with a class, a group or one to one; and definitely, a fresh take on a new sibling.

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