Ella May does it her way!

by | Jul 21, 2020 | Book Review, Fiction, Picture Book

Ella May does it her way (Cover)

Book Details

Ella May does it her way!
Mick Jackson, illus. Andrea Stegmaier, London: Quarto Publishing, hb. 978 1 7860 3904 0, 2019, £11.99, 32pp.
Picture book, 0-5 years

Children are often encouraged to try new things but feisty Ella May takes that idea to a whole new level. 

She starts doing everything backwards with interesting consequences. How will her mother react? Will she punish Ella May for being different? How will it all end?

Not every little modern girl lives on a houseboat. We quickly enter Ella May’s world with endpapers showing her unusual, well-equipped home on three levels. But that is not the only striking thing: our little heroine is very imaginative and determined. “Once Ella had set her mind on something she liked to see it through”. Ella lives with her mother and, like other young children, likes dinosaurs, insects and stripes. One day she is perturbed by a meal she considers “unusual” so her mum advises her, “it’s good to try new things”.

Mick Jackson uses this as an opportunity to display her feisty character. Ella May decides walking backwards is the way to go. Her first attempts in the park are not without an accident but she is soon reading, sleeping and moving everywhere backwards until everyone around her joins in. It is at that point that she decides to go forwards and, after seeing a poster, does cartwheels instead. 

Andrea Stegmaier’s cover cleverly makes Ella May distinctive, giving us her viewpoint surrounded by crowds of grey legs and feet apart from one pair of red socks. This colour is echoed in her name and casual stripey top, black shorts and flip flops. Shades of turquoise green dominate the colour palette with plenty of little details for young readers to enjoy such as pigeons fighting over a piece of bread, or a white cat watching the interesting townsfolk crowding over a bridge. Mother and child have a strong, loving relationship. The final page shows them playing together, pretending to be a snake sliding along, making dinosaur shadows indoors or hiding in bushes and trees, all using their imagination.

This appealing, colourful book is fun to read and turns things on their head literally!


Review by Susan Bailes