Inside Out: reviews
The Copper Tree series of books following the lives of a group of schoolchildren are known for addressing topics and themes that affect small children.
Aimed at youngsters aged four to seven, the books – by Yorkshire author Hilary Robinson – tackle social issues from a child’s perspective, in a gentle, reassuring way. Interwoven into the charming picture books are themes such as bereavement, divorce and prejudice.
The latest in the series is Help A Hamster, helping children gain a greater understanding of what it is like to be adopted.
The book starts with a surprise in store for the children of Copper Tree class when they return to school after the holidays and discover that Henry, the class hamster, has four baby hamsters. A shock for everyone as they Henry was a boy hamster!
With the babies needing homes, Alfie Tate is assigned hamster monitor. The teacher, Mr Davis, thinks Alfie is the best man for the job as he is adopted and can explain to the class how it feels to go to a new home.
The story also covers the issue of bullying, with the smallest hamster, Alfonzo, ignored by his mother and pushed aside by the others. Alfie takes pity on Alfonzo and when he is last to be found a new home, Alfie’s mum agrees to him taking the hamster home.
Accompanied by lovely pastel-toned illustrations by Mandy Stanley, this is the kind of book I remember reading as a young child. It tackles subjects which may be new or difficult for children, and shows how they can find a way to deal with these issues.
Hilary is an award-winning author, radio producer and feature writer. The author of more than 40 books for children, including the bestseller Mixed Up Fairy Tales, she has had books published around the world. Related to the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, Hilary was brought up in Nigeria and England and now lives in Yorkshire with her family.
Mandy trained for a career in fashion before discovering a passion for writing and illustrating children’s books. She is best-known for her popular picture book series featuring a curious young rabbit called Lettice.