Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares

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Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares

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Category: Emerging Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A really pretty book engages with a simple story of two birds at Christmas.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 40 Date: October 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781406376920

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Meet Red and Lulu. They're a committed couple of cardinals, and they have lived for some time in someone's garden, safely in an evergreen tree. It seems to them that every year people mention their home in a lovely song, which tells the tree thy leaves are so unchanging. But one year, just as the seasons turn for the cold of winter, the tree vanishes, taking Lulu with it…

This is a lovely early reader, with a great visual appeal to match the simple craft of the story. It's a deceptive tale, for it actually has a lot in it, always with a suitable brevity for the young audience. The pacing is right, too, whether the story has one word on the page or five full sentences. Nothing is too complicated, and whether or not the target audience actually knows the cardinal species is about the only quibble.

The artwork is even better, however. In suitably choosing great bird's-eye views down to our world, or closing right in on the nest, it shows a great dynamic. You can also get a certain mileage for scanning all the large spreads to spot the birds – they're not always completely evident at first glance.

Once you've lived through the drama you get a full page of script to share with the young audience about the historical inspiration for events in it, which is interesting, but also suggests to me that this will find more of a home in the US. That's not a problem when the story is such a universal one, and the empathy we have with the birds is so clear. I guess you could quibble that it didn't have to be him seeking her – Lulu could have been the 'rescuer' for once – but again that's petty, for what we have is a really warm-hearted book, and the painted artwork, complete with intriguing story that only slowly reveals its Christmassy basis, makes for a volume to turn to very regularly.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

All I Want For Christmas by Rachel Bright is a brilliant early read concerning all things Christmas. Matt Tavares also illustrated Lighter than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot by Matthew Clark Smith.

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Buy Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares at


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