Book Review: Hide and Seek, by M J Arlidge

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_hide_and_seek.jpgArlidge’s style has me determined to get my hands on each novel in the D. I. Helen Grace series of crime stories. His characters – both the police team members, and each title’s new cast members – are well and truly alive on the page – real, and human with their foibles and fancies.

In Hide And Seek, our favourite police officer-no-more is in her worst possible place: the world behind the bars of Holloway. Both the guards and the inmates (some of whom are there because of Helen) have already adjudged her as a rotten copper – before her trial – and as just another crim.

When the inmate of the cell beside Helen’s is found dead in her bed, left by her killer in a bizarre and ghastly state, it is Helen who has to remind the inmates that none of them are safe. Helen is driven to watch both guards and inmates alike in her effort to identify the killer.

She faces suspicion and hostility from both sides. The second and third kill creates a frenzy among the inmates. An understandable error of thinking delays her eventual discovery of the murderer, which she learns the hard way. Seriously, the hard way.
The unwarranted (as in, not official) actions of loyal D. C. Charlie Brookes are what decides the sequel*.

Reviewed by Lynne McAnulty-Street

Hide and Seek
by M J Arlidge
Published 2016, by Michael Joseph, for
Penguin/Random House
Hardbound:  9780718183837
Paperback:  9781405925624

The Series:
Eeny Meeny
Pop Goes the Weasel
The Doll’s House
Liar Liar
Little Boy Blue
Hide And Seek
* Follow My Leader, later in 2017

Book Review: Have You Seen Elephant? By David Barrow

cv_have_you_seen_elephantAvailable in bookshops nationwide.

I read lots of books to children; I teach 5- and 6-year-olds, so it’s a key (and favourite) part of the job. Not all picture books are created equal, and while most children will sit politely till the end of an average book, it takes something quite special to really engage children. When you look out from the page that you’re reading, and every set of eyes is wide open and intent, and every mouth is smiling, and even normally shy children are starting to jiggle because they want to share what they’re seeing but they don’t want to interrupt the story, you know you’re reading something special. Have You Seen Elephant? is one of the special books.

Gecko Press have done it again – they’ve introduced another fantastic children’s author/illustrator to the world, namely David Barrow. Have You Seen Elephant? is funny, whimsical and works on both an adult and child’s level. I read this story several times, to about 80 children in total. Not one child – and I’m not exaggerating here – lost interest while I read. Every child had a face that was lit up as they recognised what the story was about. It’s very gratifying being the reader of such a book!

If I haven’t already convinced you to buy Have You Seen Elephant? immediately, here’s the plot. A boy and an elephant decide to play hide and seek. “I must warn you though. I’m very good,” says Elephant, as he heads off to hide. And the boy cannot find him. Of course, the readers can, but that’s the joke. Children will laugh at Elephant’s attempts to hide; adults with laugh with the recognition of how, when playing with children, you can’t hide yourself too well or you’ll never get found. The introduction of an additional friend at the end, who is great at another game, is the cherry on top.

This is David Barrow’s first book, and he’s already a prize winner, winning the Sebastian Walker Award for most promising illustrator in 2015. The illustrations are gorgeous, a colourful, expressive mix of different techniques (the picture of Elephant with the TV is just brilliant and had the children laughing out loud). I’m sure there will be more awards to follow in Barrow’s career.

If you only buy one book for your children 6 and under this Christmas, buy this one. It will become a classic.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore

Have You Seen Elephant? 
by David Barrow
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776570089