Tag Archives: The Girl with the Parrot on her Head

Oliver and Isabel: New Homes, New Friends

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Oliver & Patch
Claire Freedman and Kate Hindley
Simon & Schuster pbk
I’m no dog lover, but nevertheless quickly found myself falling for Patch – he’s a total charmer. So too is young Oliver – new to city life and feeling out of sorts – who comes across the soggy animal while out exploring his new surroundings in the rain. Oliver (who misses his country pals) and Patch are soon firm friends.

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Despite Oliver’s best efforts, for he picks up on Patch’s wistfulness, nobody comes forward as the owner of the small white dog described in his FOUND posters.

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Then one drizzly morning, Oliver and Patch’s explorations take them into what for the boy at least, is unknown territory. Hot on the heels of Patch who has suddenly broken free of his lead, Oliver finds himself in a tiny park confronting a girl all clad in red and he knows at once …

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All is not lost however, for although Ruby is indeed Patch’s owner, she is more than happy to embark on a new friendship.

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Each and every turn of the page elicited “aaahs” and not only from my audience (the butcher’s shop scene didn’t do it for my vegetarian self though); Kate Hindley’s illustrations exude playfulness and convey so beautifully, the characters’ feelings as well as extending what we hear in Claire Freedman’s well-crafted, touching text.


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The Girl with the Parrot on her Head
Daisy Hirst
Walker Books
Young Isabel, the girl with a parrot on her head seems perfectly happy spending her time with friend Simon;

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but then Simon moves away leaving poor Isobel with hate in her heart. Even the parrot moves off to perch elsewhere, until that is Isabel ‘felt quiet inside, and decided to like being on her own.’ Back comes the parrot and Isabel’s need for friends is replaced by a system. In no time at all she has (with a little help from her feathered companion) sorted all her belongings into boxes. The parrot however has nocturnal worries about those boxes, in particular the wolves’ one. Isabel too, despite her bravado, has concerns about the relative size of one of the wolves and the system.
Imagine her sense of satisfaction then when she comes across the perfect wolf box while out on her scooter. There’s a snag though: the box is already occupied.

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It’s occupant, Chester, is more than willing to discuss other possibilities than the use he’d had in mind but quickly rules it out as a wolf-container. Instead, the two tell the large lupine about the ideal place for him, whereupon he’s off right away leaving Isabel and her new friend to their own creative devices. Oh! And the parrot becomes an honorary astronaut too.

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Daisy Hirst presents a child’s loneliness as a consequence of her friend moving away in a straightforward text and allows her illustrations to do much of the talking and to reveal much of the emotional content in a gently humorous manner while still leaving gaps for readers themselves to fill. Her seemingly simple child-like images of the young characters at play rendered in bold blocks of paint, alongside outlined, uncoloured images that stand out starkly from the white page and occasional pages where somewhat muted shades of blue predominates,

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make for visual interest at every turn of the page.
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