Coralie, a solid girl in a stripy tunic, lives in the woods on her own, stands on her hands, swings from tree to tree and can juggle five squirrels. “Funny and brave, and silly and strange”, she joins a troupe of circus people travelling through her woods, befriends Lion, and asks The Man in a Big Hat who tells everyone what to do and how to do it, if she can join them. Her tricks are not up to standard, but she is the right size to be the human cannonball, and does that for one performance (a rather scary experience: Kaboom!) Again, she was not up to the standard required, and is told to pack her bags and go. She has no bags to pack, but does go to say Goodbye to Lion. The Man in the Big Hat shouts “Get back to work! More tricks! Less smiling! And absolutely NO caring about each other!”, which makes Lion do an enormous ROAR that blows away the Man in the Big Hat, and the circus people, free at last, go to live in the woods with Coralie and learn to swing through the trees and juggle five squirrels- just for fun.
One of many young artists working for The Bright Agency, Grace Easton is well established in design, but this is her debut picture book. The story is odd, but appealing, and the illustrations are fun- the Man in a Big Hat, with his flowing moustache, looks very fierce indeed, and speaks in capital letters, while Lion looks friendly with a very circular mane. The design is good; the double-page spread of Coralie, her eyes shut tight as she is shot from the cannon, is shown as if from the roof of Big Top with hundreds of faces in the audience open-mouthed below, and text is used imaginatively throughout. This picturebook will be fun to share or to read aloud.