Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman and Divya Srinivasan

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Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman and Divya Srinivasan

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lovely fable of energy and whimsy from Gaiman, brought to life by vivid illustrations from Srinivasan. A joyful book for sharing.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 40 Date: May 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408879239

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First written in 1995, Cinnamon has hitherto existed as a short story on Neil Gaiman's website or as part of an audiobook collection. Now, it's out as a picture book for us all to share.

The story follows Cinnamon, a princess in a small hot country, where everything is very old. Cinnamon was born with pearls for eyes. This means that she is very beautiful but also blind. And Cinnamon won't speak. Her parents, the rajah and rani, offer rich rewards for anyone who can persuade their daughter to talk. People come and go but nobody is successful. Until, one day, a tiger comes...

Funny, surreal and occasionally a little bit scary, Cinnamon is everything I enjoy in a picture book. A dry sense of humour pervades every page in the text, from the distinctly unimpressive list of "riches" the Rajah and Rani offer in reward to anyone who can teach their daughter to read, through the parrot who speaks in limericks, to the fate of the miserable old aunt. Children and parents will laugh as they read because the whole thing is full of throwaway lines and wicked but hilarious observation. But the tiger is scary. He is huge and fierce, a nightmare in black in orange, and he moves like a god through the world. His roar is so loud that the palace walls shake. And his claws draw real blood.

But what this magnificent creature does for Cinnamon is to demonstrate the magnificence of the world he inhabits - the chattering of the monkeys and the smell of the dawn and the taste of the moonlight and the noise a lakeful of flamingos makes when it takes to the air. The tiger shows Cinnamon that she can experience and enjoy all this magnificence even though she is blind, so of course she must talk if she is to describe it. Of course she has something to say.

The illustrations, by Divya Srinisvasan, are beautiful. Flat and matte yet vivid, they both convey the text and add to it. The detail is fabulous, giving children much to explore and discuss and making the reading experience that much richer and denser and more evocative. I'll be looking out for more work by this talented illustrator.

Of course, of course, of course - recommended.

Who could forget that other classic story featuring a magnificent striped tiger, The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr? The wonderful stories in Blackberry Blue and Other Fairy Tales by Jamila Gavin might also appeal. And personally, I think no childhood is complete without a bit of Spike Milligan.

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Buy Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman and Divya Srinivasan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman and Divya Srinivasan at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

Buy Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman and Divya Srinivasan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman and Divya Srinivasan at


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