Ruth Brown’s inspirational artwork is laudable in this enchanting pop-up book, printed on sturdy paper. The endpapers set the scene, with an isolated manor house standing alone in a deserted landscape. The ‘Once upon a time’ opening is intriguing as we see a large mansion close-up, and open the flaps to reveal the rooms within. Brown’s illustrations, in colours characteristically rich, dark and pensive, reward closer searching. Lift the flaps to find little Billy Mouse and Big Bro Bo… but what’s that, merging with the wispy cobwebs?
Highly rewarding for pre-school readers as well as those gaining reading independence, the tale unfolds with Bo leading an expedition to find food. Little Billy is constantly scared, not without cause, but Bo ignores all his interruptions, assuring him there’s nothing to fear. They find mouth-watering rewards; dazzlingly coloured fruits, biscuits, nuts… a sumptuous haul. We can see what is worrying Billy… and the two mice only just make it back home. A good time to discuss – Does an older sibling always know best? A masterly book, this is Ruth Brown at her most brilliant.