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This issue’s cover is from The Hutchinson Treasury of Children’s Poetry (cover illustration by Peter Weevers). Edited by Alison Sage (who also edited The Hutchinson Treasury of Children’s Literature), this sumptuous anthology is loosely divided into four sections corresponding to age starting with nursery rhymes and first poems through to poems for older children and classic poetry. Poems from such modern poets as Roger McGough, Ted Hughes, Wendy Cope and Maya Angelou sit alongside poems by Longfellow, Robert Louis Stevenson, Shelley and Shakespeare. The anthology is illustrated in full colour and black and white. Newly commissioned illustrations from, for example, Quentin Blake, Shirley Hughes and Nicola Bayley are included alongside illustrations by Randolph Caldecott, Jessie Willcox Smith and Kate Greenaway. With such a comprehensive range of poems for 2-11 year olds and upwards, this is a wonderful family book.
Roger the dog loves cruising along canals and rivers with his devoted master on board the narrow boat Whistling Jack. Indeed, they have made the boat their home since his owner, Jack, became a widower. Roger especially likes racing from one lock gate to the other, waiting for the water to rush through. The one aspect of canal life which upsets Roger is dark, damp, tunnels. Each one looms as a huge mouth waiting to swallow him up. He once remembers barking in a tunnel and another fierce echoey dog barked back at him! Roger becomes separated from his beloved Jack by the longest darkest tunnel of all, forcing Roger to overcome his fear of tunnels to become a VBD (very brave dog). This is a truly heartwarming story told from the dog's point of view. Tension mounts as Roger and Jack keep missing each other in their search for each other. Anxiety turns to joy as this highly recommended book draws to a satisfying and comforting end. Lewis (who recently illustrated Jenny Nimmo's award winning book The Owl Tree) is on top form with his dramatic hatched full page drawings perfectly capturing the mood of the story. Helpful cross-sections detailing what is happening inside and on top of the long tunnel are successful too.