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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Marvellous Fluffy Squishy Itty Bitty (The)
by Beatrice Alemagna
Age Range: 6-8
Five and a half year old narrator Eddie, overhears her sister saying the words “present ... Mum ... birthday ... Fluffy ... Squishy ... Itty ... Bitty ...” The only problem is that she is not entirely sure what it is or how she is going to find one! Eddie decides to visit Bruno's bakery which is full of delicious cakes because she's sure to find something there. When Bruno can't help her, Eddie goes to the florist, then the clothes shop, the antique shop and finally the butcher's, but no one can help her as they have never heard of a Fluffy Squishy Itty Bitty. Then something strange happens – has Eddie finally found what she is looking for?
From one of France's most prolific author/illustrators Beatrice Alemagna, whose books include the stunning A Lion in Paris, comes this charming story with attractive artwork full of colour and style.
Eddie is a resourceful little girl who is determined to succeed in her mission to find her mum's birthday present. With her wild straw-coloured hair and dressed in a fluorescent pink coat Eddie is a feisty protagonist. The story has the ideal format for young readers with the use of repetition as Eddie visits the different shops and with the added touches of humour when no one can understand what she is looking for and each in turn offering her something else instead.
However, it is the winsome illustrations that are so captivating. The medium of crayon and watercolour is different to Alemagna's usual collage style, so well-known in her other work, but these images are really rich and earthy with so much fine detail – the interior of the Boulangerie with its wonderful array of cakes and pastries, the colourful selection of clothes in Mimi’s fashion shop or the curiosities in the antiques shop. The double-page scene of shops and houses gives a real feel of a French town and there are surprises too; when Eddie visits the butcher he is rather brusque with her because he has a long queue of people waiting to be served (a pull-out page demonstrates this as the reader lifts the flap to extend the illustration).
The Marvellous Fluffy Squishy Itty Bitty is a charming book and has deservedly won the 2016 Mildred Bachelder Award (one of the most prestigious children's translation awards).