Thursday, February 2, 2017

Jill and Lion by Lesley Barnes (Tate Publishing)

Hooray! Hoorah! It's all the thrill of the circus in Lesley Barnes' gorgeous follow up to "Jill & Dragon"...
I never actually realised before last year that I really, REALLY love circuses. Sadly it feels like the modern world is moving on from the spectacle, the atmosphere, the sheer knockabout fun of a well-run family circus but Lesley Barnes' new book, literally just out yesterday by the way, captures the thrills and spills perfectly but makes great pains to point out that circuses haven't always been fun and wonderful places, particularly when performing animals are involved.

Just when we think we're completely burned out on 'friendship' books, along comes Lesley with a delectable follow up to her smasher "Jill and Dragon" which we thoroughly enjoyed and adored.

We were very excited to read what Jill got up to next - and once again this amazing positive mighty girl leaps to help someone who may need rescuing! Or should we say "something that needs rescuing" because this time Jill is leaping to the aid of a lion after reading about his terrible situation in a picture book!

A Lion? Hang on a minute, aren't they brave enough and roary enough to rescue themselves? Not this lion who is forced to work for a circus, driving a horrid little car around in circles. Poor listless lion really hates the circus and it's up to Jill - and her brilliant companion Dog - to put a stop to these circus cavalcades.

Oh my, isn't this just the most amazing page spread you've ever seen in your life? 
Lion is so fed up that his big weepy lion tears have started to blur the words of the story. Jill bravely decides to jump into the book and rescue Lion, landing in the middle of a particularly dangerous chapter. But with Dog at her side, nothing is too difficult for Jill to conquer, and she sets out to return Lion to his rightful place as king of the jungle.

What a rotter the Ringmaster is. Circus King indeed! Ptooie!
Will Jill succeed? It's up to you to find out in this utterly fabulous book. Charlotte loved the spectacle of this one, the story is so gorgeously laid out amongst the illustrations that it's a real treat to read. Of course it goes without saying that the book's theme really appealed to her too. She hates any cruelty to animals (and when we did visit a circus last year, we made sure that we read up on how they treat the horses, dogs and chickens that were used in some of the acts - Find out more at Giffords Circus).

She also loves the idea that there are authors out there who know that girls can do ANYTHING, even rescue the king of the jungle when he needs a helping hand. That's a hugely positive message for a little girl who now, more than ever, needs to see that message everywhere particularly in children's books. 

We were both dazzled by the artwork, Charlotte because it perfectly captures the essence of the circus and the majesty of Lion (and we also both rather love that Jill just looks like an ordinary everyday little girl too, and who couldn't fall in love with Dog as well!)

I loved this because it reminded me of books I'd read as a kid, just as Jill and Dragon did. It's got that fantastic atmospheric feel to it that 60s / 70s 'golden age' children's books had, and it stands out amongst cookie-cutter modern titles that are all beginning to blend into each other and all look the same. 

Brilliance, sheer brilliance as usual from Lesley. 

Charlotte's best bit: Poor lion's tears literally flooding the book! Awwww!

Daddy's favourite bit: A positive message at its heart, a brilliant little girl hero that girls like mine LOVE to identify with, and a fabulous setting. Artwork to die for. Oh we could go on all day, suffice to say you need this book in your life!

"Jill and Lion" by Lesley Barnes is out on 1st February 2017, published by Tate Publishing. 

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