Fletcher and the Stars / The Winter Dragon

Fletcher and the Stars
Julia Rawlinson and Tiphanie Beeke
Graffeg

The fourth Fletcher story in the Four Seasons series is a wonderful wintry one.

One chilly night as Fletcher sits at the entrance to his den gazing up at the glittering stars, they begin to disappear. Concerned, he calls to tell his Mum but she assures him that they are just covered by cloud. However, he remains worried and can’t sleep. Instead he creeps out, determined to save the stars and before long he hears a snuffling sound. It’s a badger cub that says she’s afraid of the dark and is hiding till the stars return. Encouraged by Fletcher, Badger climbs onto his shoulders and twiggy branch in paw begins swish sweeping across the sky, but of shining stars there is no sign.
Next they try from up among the branches of a tree. That only succeeds in waking sleeping Squirrel; Squirrel offers to use his tail but to no avail. Can Owl sweep away those clouds?

The others wait snuggled up in a hollow in Owl’s tree and eventually fall asleep. When Owl returns having tried her best, Fletcher is down hearted at her news. But then at least Badger has some good news: she’s no longer afraid of the dark. Fletcher and Badger then tuck Owl into her tree once more and depart in the hope that by the time she wakes, their mission to reveal those stars again will have been successful.

Up the windy hill they climb and begin to puff. I wonder what will happen …

It’s a delight to be back in the company of Fletcher with his determination, consideration for his friends and passion for the natural world. Tiphanie Beeke’s gorgeous illustrations, glow even brighter than ever in this story as they evoke so well the icy winter’s night and the feelings of the animal friends. What a perfect match for Julia Rawlinson’s equally evocative, poetic text. Snuggle up and share this with young children at home or in school.

The Winter Dragon
Caroline Pitcher and Sophy Williams
Graffeg

Young Rory hates the long dark winter nights imagining them to be the time when hidden demons lurking in the shadows come creeping out. But Rory has recently made a model dragon from his craft materials and one night as he cowers beneath the bedcovers he hears a strange growling sound.
Peeping out cautiously he finds his dragon glowing like a nightlight, keeping away the dark and using its hot breath to warm his bed and his slippers and his bathwater.

Each night the dragon returns to warm him with tales of bravery with blazing fires, jewels hidden beneath the earth, elf kings, knights and dragons. With every visit Rory and the Winter Dragon together ‘banish the demons of the dark’ enabling the boy, his heart filled with the dragon’s stories, to sleep soundly, unafraid.

With the coming of Spring, Rory knows in his heart that it’s time for him and his dragon to bid one another farewell and one night safe in the knowledge that his friend will always be there should Rory need him, he watches the dragon leave, bound once again for his own world again.

With a gentle sprinkling of fantasy, Caroline Pitcher ’s lyrical telling combined with Sophy Williams’ soft focus, realistic illustrations highlight one little boy’s battle with his fears and his growing courage.

Fletcher and the Rockpool

Fletcher and the Rockpool
Julia Rawlinson and Tiphanie Beeke
Graffeg

Summer has come, the ideal time for inquisitive young Fletcher fox and his mum to foray from their woodland home for a seaside visit.

While Mum makes a camp on the seashore, Fletcher heads down to the water’s edge, enjoying the feel of the sand beneath his paws and the waves splashing his toes. Coming upon a rockpool, he stretches himself out flat and gazes into the water observing the creatures and seaweed therein. Suddenly he notices that the pool is getting smaller and he’s concerned about the fate of the limpets and sea anemone. Unaware of the sea’s tidal ebb and flo phases, so misunderstanding what is happening, the helpful Fletcher dashes to and fro filling his bucket with water and tipping it into the seemingly ever shrinking rockpool.

His behaviour puzzles a watching seagull and it tries to tell him about the tide but Fletcher is distraught.

All he can do is save Little Crab he decides, so he takes it back up to where his Mum has made the camp, creates for it a seaweed blanket and falls asleep alongside the crustacean.

Imagine his surprise and joy when in the morning he finds …

Tiphanie Beeke’s soft glowing paintings (the final one with a sprinkling of silver) evoke both the seashore and Fletcher’s concerns about the rockpool fauna and flora and are a perfect match for Julia Rawlinson’s lyrical, wonderfully warm words as they both pay poetic tribute to the summery seaside.
I have no doubt this latest Fletcher story will resonate with young listeners, as well as introducing them to the idea of tidal movement.

Fletcher and the Rainbow

Fletcher and the Rainbow
Julia Rawlinson and Tiphanie Beeke
Graffeg

The latest in this series featuring Fletcher and his animal friends is again a delight. Young listeners will be swept along with the little fox in his determined effort to find the rainbow before it disappears, gone in the rainy autumn mist. He hopes that if he’s able to find it he could help it shine forever rather than as his mum had said, “soon be gone”.

Through the dripping wood he goes soon coming upon birds giving themselves a final feed before setting off to fly south. They tell him that the rainbow’s end is at Hedgehog’s nest and Fletcher hastens on his way.

His search takes him next to Squirrel, also preparing for winter; then as he tumbles into the stream where Squirrel has helpfully sent him, Goose. She’s doubtful when Fletcher tells her that the rainbow has fallen in the stream but helps him look nonetheless. They do see a reflection but it’s a learning experience for Fletcher.

Finally as he hurries past the rabbits the little fox sees …

but even then the rainbow eludes him.

Stopping now, Fletcher reflects on his search and how the rainbow’s led him through the woods and he decides he can at least create a rainbow memorial …

All his friends are happy to assist and together they create the most gorgeous autumn rainbow …

Whether you want a story to introduce to young children the scientific ideas connected with rainbows or the natural world in autumn, hope and determination, or creative problem solving, this is a lovely starting point. Most important though, it’s a sweet, uplifting book for sharing and pausing to delight in the captivating, richly hued scenes of Fletcher’s journey. and that sparkling finale spread.

Fletcher and the Caterpillar

Fletcher and the Caterpillar
Julia Rawlinson and Tiphanie Beeke
Graffeg

For those, like this reviewer, meeting the main protagonist for the first time, Fletcher is an inquisitive little fox, and a bit of a worrier. His new story starts in the spring with the observant vulpine noticing that while everything else in the wood is growing, there’s one green leaf that is actually getting smaller. On investigation, he discovers a tiny caterpillar having a nibble. Friendly as always Fletcher, with the aid of his other animal friends, tries to involve the caterpillar in such activities as racing, boating

and hide and seek, but all the caterpillar is interested in, is munching.

One day though, the munching stops; the little creature is still and silent. Fletcher’s Mum reassures him that it’s normal caterpillar behaviour

but the cub is still concerned for its well-being, watching over it until he falls fast asleep.

Overnight a change occurs mystifying Fletcher but again his Mum tells him it’s what caterpillars do and soon he’ll have a wonderful surprise.

After a long, long wait, sure enough he does.

With Julia Rawlinson’s sweet, gentle nature narrative she paints a picture of friendship and of spring; a picture that is echoed in Tiphanie Beeke’s soft, textured, sun-infused art, which shows so well the colours and joys of its seasonal setting and one of nature’s wonderful mysteries.