Ready, Steady, Jump by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds

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Ready, Steady, Jump by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Whilst all the other baby animals are happy bouncing around, poor elephant just can’t jump at all. However, his low centre of gravity just may come in helpful in this colourful, if slightly daft, children’s sharing book.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: March 2015
Publisher: Andersen Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781783440399

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Shortlisted for the Children’s Book Award 2016: Books for Younger Children

Children’s books are a great way of introducing the varied world of the animal kingdom. There are books on lions, kangaroos, monkeys, aardvarks, ostriches and so many others. However, children’s books since the days of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories have also been confusing kids with animal facts that just aren’t true. Are we to believe that an elephant got its trunk by having it pulled on by a crocodile? To compound the issue, author Jeanne Willis is now suggesting that not only do elephants have an elongated nose, but they are also unable to jump – how silly (but true)!

The characters of Ready, Steady, Jump, love to get their feet off the ground and feel the wind in their hair. The monkey can jump, so can the lion, even the giraffe, but the baby elephant is just too heavy. No amount of practise or trampolines are enough for the tiny tonne-some to get into the air. However, perhaps a strong centre of gravity and a long trunk will come in handy should a crisis occur?

Ready is the type of fun kids book that does not make a lick of sense. I have no idea whether elephants can jump or not, but I suspect that a giraffe may struggle to get very high too! Despite my initial misgivings about the plot of the book, this is a silly story for children to enjoy and there is fun to be had watching the various animals leap around the place. The fact that the elephant is unable to join in could be sad, but Willis makes sure that the other animals are on his side to try and help. The book encourages perseverance and teamwork, even if it is for nought.

The narrative progresses from being about jumping, to a little adventure as one by one the animals become stuck down the side of a cliff. At this point only the elephant can save the day as he can use his trunk to pull the other animals up. This element of the story does make some sort of sense, but even in the world of books for sharing, children like a little logic and they should spot the flaw in the story. The elephant is asked to help originally by jumping down the side of a cliff, but as the book establishes – he cannot jump. However, even a heavy animal can fall. This basic fact somewhat undermines the final few pages of the book and the smarter 3 year old onwards may figure this out for themselves.

The flaws with the book don’t stop just with the slightly undeveloped ideas, but are also in Adrian Reynolds’ illustrations. His use of colour and space is very good – the pages look wonderful, bright and inviting, but on more than one occasion the animals look a little off. The drawings often depict them leaping in the air, mouths agape with joy. This makes them look very odd indeed and at times the lion in particular looks more like a bear. This may not affect the target audience of 2-5 year olds, but it will be noticeable to the person helping to read the story.

In total Ready, Steady, Jump, is a book of almosts and nearlys. The story almost makes sense and the illustrations are nearly decent. However, in as hugely busy market as this, average is perhaps not enough. The book itself is well designed and colourful and will capture the attention of the very young. The text is nice and clear, but once your toddler begins to grow and question what is happening in the story, you may find yourself having to explain some rather obvious faults in the story.

More elephantine entertainment can be found in Elephant by Petr Horacek, but for a real scientific investigation into their inability to jump you can read the adult science book Why Can't Elephants Jump? by Mick O'Hare.

Buy Ready, Steady, Jump by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ready, Steady, Jump by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Ready, Steady, Jump by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ready, Steady, Jump by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds at Amazon.com.


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