Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Come All You Little Persons by John Agard, illus Jessica Courtney-Tickle

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:

It’s lovely to start the Jhalak Prize longlist for 2018 with this picture book by John Agard.

We’ve always been fans of Agard in this house. My daughter had a poetry anthology when she was small that included his delightful ‘Got a Date With Spring’. And his poem ‘Half Caste’ is a punch in the gut must-read for older children and adults. Sot to find a new poem by him is a delight.

The first test for a picture book is how it reads out loud. And, as you would expect from a poet like Agard, Come All You Little Persons has the rhythm that makes that a joy.

Each little person that is called forth is described by their clothing, and each summoning introduces different words – from a feathered cape, to a shirt made of spray, from an apron that shines, to an invisible gown – so there is plenty to talk about.

Jessica Courtney-Tickle’s illustrations are filled with detail that can be pored over night after night. The style edges towards pointillist and the colour palette is rich but soft and slightly muted. Most importantly, the little persons called forth come in all shapes and sizes – male and female, tall and short, chubby and slim – and with every shade of skin from pale to dark, so every little reader can see themselves reflected.

The final page shows all the little persons circling the earth in a great dance – those we have seen called forth and many more besides that you can have fun creating identities for yourself.

The second great test for a picture book is whether is stands being read again and again, with enough to hold the interest of both adult and child. Come All You Little Persons passes that test with flying colours.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: Lullaby Hullabaloo by Mick Inkpen, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell

Avoid If You Dislike: Rhythm, Dance, Reading Out Loud

Perfect Accompaniment: Bedtime cuddles

Genre: Picture book. Children's

Available on Amazon

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