Story Soup

Story Soup
Abie Longstaff and Nila Aye
Templar Publishing

As the story starts Ollie is in the process of mixing a story and it’s to be about skateboards – only skateboards. Well, that was his intention but he hadn’t reckoned on the intervention of his sister Susie. She just can’t resist adding some ingredients to the pot and it becomes so Susie says, “OUR story”. A twisting turning story of a skateboarding princess and a reluctantly bad, somewhat silly pirate named Barnacle who develops a taste for ‘yellow sausages’.

All of a sudden things start getting out of control with various things falling into the mixture,

Ollie claiming his story is spoiled and Susie tossing all kinds of random items into the pot over which they start to tussle causing terrible turmoil among the soup ingredients.

Can the brother and sister possibly save the situation if they change their tactics and start to co-operate … You never know: will there or will there not be a ‘happily ever after’ ending? I wonder …

If ever there was an incentive for youngsters to start creating their own stories it’s this zany picture book. There’s even a recipe on the final page to set those brain cells imagining. Think what fun you could have in the classroom if you provide a large container and a large spoon, sit the children in a circle and invite them to co-create an adventure.

Seemingly both author and illustrator had lots of fun concocting their action-packed tale of a tale – embedded narrative gone mad! I love the way Nila’s illustrations of the brother and sister segue from their actions to their story narrative and back during the course of Abie’s telling.

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.