Thursday, 16 June 2016
Hiding Heidi by Fiona Woodcock (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)
Sometimes you start reading a children's picture book with a certain level of expectation that there may be parts of the story that will be overly familiar to you. One of my old English teachers claimed that there are only actually about 3 stories in the entire world - and it's how those three stories are spun, folded and presented that determines how skilful a writer really is.
in Fiona Woodcock's exquisite "Hiding Heidi", I could instantly identify Heidi's behaviour as being something that poor Charlotte complains bitterly about in that certain way that only an 8 year old can - when something is the be all and end all of their entire world, despite being pretty insignificant when you start to scratch the surface of what's wrong.
Heidi is a little girl who has an amazing talent. No matter where she is or who she's with, she can hide. Her clothes magically transform and - chameleon-like - she instantly blends in with her surroundings.
Heidi, of course, is an expert at hide and seek and when she's with her friends she always wants to play that game rather than any of their choices. Heidi is supremely confident that she's the world champion hide-and-seeker but when her friends start to want to play other things, Heidi shies away. You see, her confidence dwindles as soon as she tries something new.
But you can't win all the time - and Heidi soon realises that the way to cement her friendship with those dearest to her, is to sometimes play their choice of game even if it means not winning.
Right there is Fiona's gloriously well observed theme for this story, so when Charlotte and I read this together, she loudly exclaimed that this is what HER friends do (but also later quietly admitted that she too likes to be like Heidi at times, only playing the games that she chooses).
So it's a beautiful little moral tale, with the most wonderful illustrations and colours woven into the story. I still don't think my english teacher is right, but when you see something this wonderfully well observed and instantly familiar yet sparklingly original, who could fail to fall in love with books!
Charlotte's best bit: Heidi's rather neat way of hiding amongst the yachts on a boating lake
Daddy's favourite bit: Acutely well observed, gloriously illustrated and imparting a moral tale that so many children and adults will recognise. Something rather special this one!
(Kindly sent to us for review by Simon and Schuster Children's Books)
Written and Illustrated by Fiona Woodcock
Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books
Publication Date: 14th July 2016