Fearless Mirabelle

Fearless Mirabelle
Katie Haworth and Nila Aye
Templar Publishing

Daughters of famous circus acrobats, Meg and Mirabelle are identical twins; but though they look alike, they are completely different. Much to her parents’ delight, Mirabelle shows signs of following in their footsteps right from the start as she balances, climbs and jumps.

Meg in contrast merely makes an enormous amount of noise. And so it continues as the girls grew older, although their propensities for dare devil moves and incessant talking are now in full flower.

One day the parent Moffats decide to take their twins to work. Once in the circus tent three family members perform amazing acrobatic feats.

Then comes Meg’s turn and with it, as she slowly ascends the ladder and stands on the platform all a-tremble, comes the Moffats’ realisation that this daughter suffers from acrophobia. (Me too).

Once she’s safely back on the ground, her parents offer sympathy and alternative possibilities but nothing really fits the bill so far as Meg is concerned.

Off she goes to sit alone in the caravan; refusing even to come out and see Mirabelle’s debut performance.

The act commences and is an enormous success but then Mirabelle is faced with the inevitable cameras and mikes being thrust at her. That’s the price of success; but the poor child is no longer fearless, she’s positively petrified.
Sisterly love prevails though as Meg steps forward to offer a helping hand and an enormous voice.
Could she finally have discovered her calling?

What a terrific celebration of difference, finding your own purpose in life, and sisterly love Katie Haworth’s story is. You certainly don’t have to be a twin to appreciate its messages, nor to revel in Nila Ali’s spirited scenes of the circus sisters and their parents.
A book that will surely have encore performances demanded after every reading.

How to Find a Friend / Flying Lemurs

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How To Find a Friend
Maria S. Costa
Oxford University Press
I love the double narrative style of this, Maria Costa’s debut picture book. Herein we follow the search for friendship of Squirrel and Rabbit, both of whom have just moved into new abodes. The trouble is (despite the  stage whispers from a pair of bit-part players) the two animals are just not looking in the right places. Listeners will delight in the manner in which we’re shown the unfolding dramas of the two main characters, one in full colour, the other in outline, highlighting their invisibility to one another: It’s all very hit and miss – or rather hit …

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and hit …

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Children will love the mismatch between words and pictures as well as the fact they can use the story maps at the front and back of the book to track the action and the crossed paths of the main characters.
Maria Costa’s linocut illustrations are terrific fun: her use of a limited colour palette is particularly effective in highlighting this small drama of flipsides, folly and friendship – eventually. And I particularly love that when the going gets tough, Squirrel finds solace in his books …

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That, and the gentle irony of the whole thing.

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Flying Lemurs
Zehra Hicks
Two Hoots
The lemurs are a talented jumping family: Mum on the trapeze, Dad the trampoline and Granny is an ace cannon jumper. There’s one little lemur however, who just cannot jump at all. Other family members encourage …

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and demonstrate …

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but the result is DISASTER  – always …

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Fortunately, her family is sympathetic and even more encouraging …

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so can their little one finally cut it as a rocket jumper?
This funny story is just the thing for those who strive but find things challenging; it demonstrates beautifully how it is possible to overcome your fears, unlock your personal aptitudes and find your own forte.
Zehra Hicks’s illustrations, be they in strip format, whole page or full spread, are wonderfully chucklesome and I love her choice of colour palette; it’s absolutely right for the circus setting.

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