Clementine has never seen the outside world. She is kept shut up inside No 10 Blackstone Street, home to her aunt and uncle. When not locked in her cellar room, she must clean and tidy for them. Her only companion (when he feels like it) is the white cat she calls Gilbert. Her only consolation, to lie looking up her chimney to catch a glimpse of a blue sky – and to dream about a special, a magical place; a place she is determined to find because she knows she must escape. But can she find the courage – and the strength?
Chris Wormell is already well known to be a master of the picture book as the author –illustrator of such classics as Molly and the Night Monster and George and the Dragon. Now he is turning his talent for storytelling to writing with a longer text. He is to be congratulated. Here is a Cinderella story to delight, perfect for reading aloud – or, if confident, reading oneself and especially for those who have already been introduced to Dahl. The narrative voice is assured and direct, inviting the reader to take part in the storytelling; a collaboration. The characters may be fairytale (no princes or princesses, though) – the orphan, the wicked Aunt and Uncle – splendidly nasty creations, the animal familiar – but no magic, rather the magic is the power of the imagination and of hope. To accompany the text there are Wormell’s own illustrations – spreads that give Clementine’s world reality, page decorations to highlight elements of the narrative, complementing the text with little vignettes from the hand of a great draughtsman; black and white until the final glorious revelation. In addition the production values are excellent. From the attractive cover designed by Wormell, the end pages where the neat designs subtly mirror the passage of the story to the excellent choice of font, clear and unfussy, here is a little volume that demands to be picked up and read. This is to be highly recommended.