by Katherina Manolessou
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN: 9781847809025
Review by Derek Brazell
This is a search mission, played out across wonderful scenarios packed with amusing incident. Daisy the rabbit (pink and purple) enlists Detective Basil the newt (light and dark blue) to find her missing pet ladybird (red and black). Off they trek though a variety of scenes consisting of delightful double page spreads – school, museum, concert – packed with characters and busy backgrounds, with loads to see and find – handily prompted by the text. Five bees and five mice are to be found whizzing and jumping around each spread. It’s a challenge just finding Daisy and Basil amongst the swarming hoards. Ladybird is generally found sneaking off the edge of a page…
Manolessou’s familiar, confident use of colour makes for a huge variety in all the animals, and there’s a dynamic sense of movement across all the busy illustrations; rollercoasters climb tree tops, buses made of half melons trundle by and everywhere you look a creature is peeping, scampering or slithering (if a snake). It all brings a smile to your face as a sense of exuberance and fun jumps off every page – bonkers in the best sense.
Manolessou has a gift for creating a composition which fills a page, yet leaves room for the image to breathe. Foliage and flowers are in abundance across Plant City and the animals and insects easily rival them for interest. The Cave Concert has the creatures throwing their best dance floor shapes, and the reader is quite likely to feel like joining them in the mosh pit, or dive bombing off curly plants on The Riverbank!
The Monkey Puzzle tree which makes up The Market has a silly hat stall, a bike shop and, of course, a book and comics store. A subtle reminder of the value of something tangible to read in your hand.
It won’t be a big surprise that Ladybird is eventually discovered, but it’s been a fun, charming adventure from a unique illustrator (and with the hint of more to come, as on the last spread Ladybird sneaks away again when Daisy isn’t looking).