There’s a lot to love in this book about friendship and finding yourself amongst the chaos of life.
‘Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her. And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions.’
Jenny McLachlan aces teenage awkwardness and the overriding want to fit in. The characters are real; flawed, learning and developing. It’s a joy to read about a science loving girl who is handy with a wrench but has no possible clue when it comes to relationships – with her baby sister, with the other kids at school, with her mum. Meg is intelligent and practical but is still afraid of saying the wrong thing and making a fool of herself.
Her developing friendship with Annie is delicious. Annie has Cerebral Palsy and sometimes uses a wheelchair or crutches but, thanks to some awesomely inclusive writing, she isn’t defined by her CP and is a wonderfully funny and fierce character. Annie is where McLachlan’s teenage voice really comes to life and she captures the dry wit and banter perfectly.
Stargazing for Beginners is not about the science geek getting a makeover and getting the boy. It laughs in the face of that kind of message. Instead, it’s about a girl turning into a young woman, learning to love herself and finding a network of friends who love her for who she really is. It’s about finding yourself and above all being true to yourself. And that is a beautiful thing.
You can get your copy here.
Source – kindly sent for review by Bloomsbury.
Rhino’s and lions aren’t always the best of friends but I shall make an exception for this dapper one.
A mighty lion and a tiny mouse live next to each other and are best friends. The only trouble is Lion thinks he is better than Mouse in every way. And he shows it. Until one day, Mouse is no longer there to listen to Lion’s boasting. When Lion comes face to face with his biggest fear he realises how much he needs and misses Mouse. But will Mouse listen to his calls and come to his rescue? Of course! And in a beautiful and inventive way.
Lion and Mouse is Catalina Echeverri’s first picture book and I think she is one to watch. It’s a funky re-telling and modernisation of a classic tale of friendship. Lion and Mouse really come to life with cleverly drawn expressions and body language. I love their swirly cheeks and the use of pattern on their clothes.
I am really impressed by Echeverri’s use of colour. Blue and yellow backgrounds are used to show character. Blue for Lion and yellow for Mouse, the blue always centre stage and creeping in and overpowering the yellow.
And then the big, black dark. The rescue page is a triumph. I won’t post a photo of it here because it is too gorgeous to spoil- go and get yourself a copy and see for yourself!
Mouse and Lion are reunited thanks to Mouse’s daring rescue and they have a great big hug – on a bright green background. Their colours have come together, just as they have. Just gorgeous. For the last few pages the colours are reversed and mixed to show Lion and Mouse happily playing together and sharing their strengths. Brilliant! Also check out the end papers to see how even their houses have changed to represent their new-found equality.
I love that children will get so much more out of this book than the surface story. They are innately visual and will subconsciously take in all the background colour work. They will understand the use of size difference and how it relates to character and they will soak up so much more than the heartwarming message of friendship.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Catalina Echeverri comes up with next. If you are too, you can follow her on twitter here.
Lion and Mouse was published 4th April by Jonathan Cape.
Source: Kindly sent for review by the publisher.