Mick Manning on a book that reveals the fairy tale powers of nature…
When I was invited to choose a title for BfK published in the last five years or so, it had to be Tadpole’s Promise by Jeanne Willis. For me this book turns the primary school science topic of Metamorphosis into an unforgettable fairy tale. The words are clever and witty. You chuckle at young love struggling against the inevitability of nature. ‘Promise you’ll never change’ caterpillar keeps begging, as taddy first grows legs, then arms and finally loses his tail. Then caterpillar pupates… and the tale grows darker, as all good fairy tales should. The text is perfectly matched by the ink and amphibious watercolour illustrations. Tony Ross makes his emerging butterfly look like an entomologist’s dream. The inconceivably insectivorous ending comes as a complete surprise. After this experience children will always remember metamorphosis. Long live the powers of Nature revealed in Tadpole’s Promise.
Tadpole’s Promise by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Tony Ross, is published by Andersen (1 84270 426 5, £5.99 pbk).
Mick Manning’s latest book with Brita Granström is Fly on the Wall: Viking Longship (Frances Lincoln, 1 84507 465 3, £10.99 hbk).