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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)
Alfred and the Blue Whale
by Mina Lystad
Age Range: 6-8
Alfred is just about scared of everything - things that go fast or go slowly, falling, stumbling and dancing. He hates using the telephone and saying the wrong thing when someone asks directions or taking the bus on his own. He is also frightened of red lights, thick duvet, fireworks and of jumpers with tight necks. But he is especially scared of speaking in front of his class. When his teacher tells the class on Monday morning they will each be given the name of an animal that they need to research some interesting facts about so that they can share this with the class on Friday, Alfred is terrified. He needs to find some exciting information about the Blue Whale and speak about it to his whole class. Gradually though, as he learns about the Blue Whale the braver he becomes.
This is a charming and heart-warming story by Mina Lystad translated from Norwegian by Siân Mackie. Alfred is an endearing character and many young readers are sure to empathise with his dilemma and real fear of speaking in public. The expressive comic pen and ink and watercolour illustrations by Norwegian illustrator Ĺshild Irgens compliment the text perfectly – Alfred with his long fringe that he hides behind, his irritated sister sitting in a messy bedroom with her friend when Alfred interrupts their discussion of ‘important matters’ and his enjoyment of learning about the Blue Whale and his impending talk to his class.
Alfred and the Blue Whale is part of the Buzzy Reads series which are all of a similar length and style that perfectly bridge the gap between picture books and first chapter books. The end pages include non-fiction facts about the Blue Whale.