The Best of Times by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark

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The Best of Times by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jo Heffer
Reviewed by Jo Heffer
Summary: Prince Frederico marries the beautiful Princess Serafina and in the tradition of all good fairy tales, they should live happily ever after. Unfortunately, the years after their marriage become the saddest of times for Princess Serafina and nobody can work out the reason why. Prince Frederico is distraught and searches the length and breadth of his kingdom trying to find someone who can help. Will anyone be able to cure the princess's sadness and in doing so, bring her the best of times?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 48 Date: October 2009
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1405232555

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Most children enjoy a good traditional tale and this lovely book by Michael Morpurgo seems to have all the right ingredients – a handsome prince and a beautiful princess who fall in love, get married and live happily ever after. Or do they? Sadly, not long after Prince Frederico marries the lovely Princess Serafina, she becomes very sad. Nobody knows what has caused such great sadness, but poor Prince Frederico is desperate to find a cure for his wife's misery. He tries everything in his power and eventually decides to offer his kingdom to anyone who can make her happy again before she dies of a broken heart. Lots of people come to the palace to try and help but in the end the solution is a simple one provided by some very kind travellers.

I shared this book with my six year old daughter and we both loved it. The story is told using traditional fairy tale language which is quite refreshing for a modern book. The traditional language draws the reader in from the very start and I am sure that young children will want to read along and ask lots of questions as they are reading. The biggest question is why Princess Serafina is so sad – the answer to which we only find out right at the end. My daughter is quite a sensitive soul though and she did find the sadness in the story catching. Most of the time, as we were reading she was wearing a worried expression on her face but thankfully the story does provide a happy ending and the relief she felt at the end was very welcome.

The story is accompanied by some wonderful illustrations that really help to tell what is happening. The illustrator is Emma Chichester Clark and I did think that some of the pages were quite exquisite with lots of wonderful detail. Best of all though is the way that she has captured Princess Serafina's sadness particularly through the look in her eyes.

The story is well told and well written and it moves along at a good pace that should keep a young reader's interest. It is also quite thought provoking and, as demonstrated by my daughter's response, quite poignant. There are only forty eight pages in the book and this seems to be about half text and half illustration. At this length, it is quite suitable for a young but confident reader to tackle alone but I do think that it is also a book that is made for sharing and one that will prompt lots of talk. It is definitely a book that we will want to read again.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book sounds appealing, you could also take a look at The Twin Giants: A Love Story by Dick King-Smith. This is another book written like a traditional tale with gorgeous illustrations.

Booklists.jpg The Best of Times by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2009.
Buy The Best of Times by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Best of Times by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Best of Times by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Best of Times by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark at Amazon.com.


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