The Secret Staircase (Brambly Hedge) by Jill Barklem
|The Secret Staircase (Brambly Hedge) by Jill Barklem|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Nowhere near as wonderful as it should be, as this book shrinks away from showing us the artwork and also from giving us a full conclusion to the story.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 32||Date: November 2013|
|Publisher: Harper Collins|
Primrose and Wilfred have a poem to rehearse as part of the mouse community's midwinter celebrations, but nowhere to practice, until they are shunted up to an attic. But once there chance discoveries lead them to find a new world that they could hardly have imagined – luxurious rooms carved into the upper reaches of the oak tree, where nobody has gone for years…
This tidy little volume in the Brambly Hedge series shows some of the merits of the range, and quite a few flaws put on it. First and foremost is its size – the lush detail in the pictures Jill Barklem created alongside her text demand this to be an A4 colour picture book, not a 'pocket' hardback. Blowing everything up would make the font look easier for the emergent reader this is aimed at.
You can tell it's aimed at such an age-range because the story won't really satisfy anyone else. There is a charm to the community of Brambly Hedge, with everyone engaged in some shape or fashion in putting the festivities together. Our principals, Primrose and Wilfred, are perfect leads to the unexplored world they find, but – spoiler alert – they come back, do their performance and nothing of consequence happens. The end. As a result this is nearly lovely – certainly it needs to be bigger to see the lovely pictures in all their glory – but for the story, the discovery of the secret rooms is only a tease, an appetiser, and the charming descriptions of the text seem a little wasted when they're just abandoned again. It's only the usual post-Beatrix Potter animal story charm that carries us to being satisfied.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
A Year in Brambly Hedge is more satisfying, and provides a fine collection. For older children who like mice communities in their fiction, we enjoy the series including Mouse Guard: Legends of The Guard by David Petersen.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Secret Staircase (Brambly Hedge) by Jill Barklem at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Secret Staircase (Brambly Hedge) by Jill Barklem at Amazon.com.
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