Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop

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Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Not for everyone, but I found this collection of episodes in the lives of two friendly reptiles quite a winsome success.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: January 2017
Publisher: Gecko Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781776571055

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Snake and Lizard, after deciding not to eat or be eaten by the other, have set up their business designed to help other animals in need. But they need a new sign for their premises, and work done to the entrance burrow. But what name goes first on the advert, and who is to do the labour for the expansion? Those arguments done – and there will be arguments aplenty before this book is out – they find a rival has stolen all their traffic. Can they get any business back to their door? A rabbit that's too pale for the desert life, critters in need of a bed for the night, and even one wondering if the world is flat or round, all prove they can. It's a hard life being such unlikely partners…

It would be a hard life for some readers to come blind to this as a third book in this series, were it not for the effortless writing on these pages. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for, but the immediacy of it all brings the sense of a moral fable to the tale, and the linked short stories we get here drive us through the shenanigans (until they seem to stop in an unfortunate manner – roll on book four, then). This is an unusual world – it's hard to escape the feeling that Snake would normally just gobble everything else up, apart for the poisonous, warty toads, but that's part of the edge to the slightly tetchy relationship. Snake is the embodiment of her species, and on reading this you realise you never, ever had equals in the original Aesopian fables, so why should you here?

The feel of the whole piece being a string of fables didn't come fully-fledged to me, however. Some messages – that about the right to a democratic ethos at work, the benefits of a suitable payment scheme, the checking with the colleague first before making a bizarre decision on your own – are there, but certainly aren't the common-or-garden under-elevens reading. That then makes this a quite distinguished little read, and even when the fable is dropped for a fun look at Chinese Whispers in action, or a cameo from a forgetful whatever-it-is-I-can't-remember, there is a strong quality here. The illustrations are on hand to break up, if not every spread then every one in two (although I found two birds popping by the business very unconvincing), and the clarity of the writing makes the work a success for a youngster who doesn't need the immediacy, the high-octane drama, or the obviousness of the majority of junior reads. I can't pretend this will sit well with all potential readers, but a hefty audience should find it has a strong merit.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

More arguments from this author, but concerning humans? Try Dunger.

Buy Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop at Amazon.com.


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