Flash Review: Teacup by Rebecca Young & illustrated by Matt Ottley

By Maureen Tai, 21 February 2021

Teacup (ages 5+) is a gorgeous picture book written by Rebecca Young and sumptuously illustrated by acclaimed artist, Matt Ottley. In lyrical, almost musical, prose, Young tells the story of a young boy who bravely climbs into a boat with a book, bottle, blanket and a teacup filled with earth, leaving his home for unknown reasons, bound for unknown lands. Ottley’s stunningly painted seascapes show the boy’s long journey in grand detail – at times frightening, lonely, wistful, but always magical and hopeful – to its satisfying conclusion. This enchanting read is a gentle introduction to displacement and the yearning for home. (100 words)

Flash Review: Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan

By Maureen Tai, 14 February 2021

Pakistani-Canadian writer Rukhsana Khan’s charming picture book, Big Red Lollipop (ages 5+), tells the universally relatable story of sibling rivalry, temptation and forgiveness. Rubina is invited to a birthday party. Her Muslim mother, unfamiliar with Western birthday party etiquette, insists that Rubina take along her younger sister, Sana. The foreseeable disastrous consequences unfold, further aggravated by the theft by Sana of the titular red lollipop. When Sana later faces the same situation, Rubina must decide if she’ll save or punish her sibling. Khan’s first-person narrative is compelling, honest and direct, while Sophie Blackall’s illustrations are rich with details and expressions. (100 words).

Flash Review: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

By Maureen Tai, 7 February 2021

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is a unique graphic collection of profound, bite-sized meditations on friendship and kindness by illustrator, artist and author Charlie Mackesy. Framed as heart-to-heart conversations between the four titular friends, their friendship deepens with each page of Mackesy’s exquisite ink-and-pen illustrations, composed of masterfully executed undulating lines, bold flourishes and dreamy curlicues, sometimes with splashes of brooding watercolour, always with gorgeously handwritten text. The unnumbered pages are arranged so that readers of all ages can dip in, wherever they choose, alone or in company, and find solace, inspiration, wisdom and breath-taking beauty.
For ages 5 and up. (100 words)

Grandpa’s Angel by Jutta Bauer

By Maureen Tai, 5 February 2021

All in all, it’s been a beautiful life …even if at times a little strange.”


Ageing is an inevitable part of life. One of the hardest tasks for a parent is talking to young children about old age, in particular as it relates to beloved grandparents or other elderly friends and relatives. In her whimsical and imaginative illustrated story, Grandpa’s Angel, German author and illustrator Jutta Bauer manages to cover all the bases of this difficult conversation without plunging readers into the depths of depression. The book we read was also a delightfully compact A5 size, adding a subtle hint of playfulness to the experience.

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