Review Blog

Oct 21 2015

The Cleo stories: A friend and a pet by Libby Gleeson

cover image

Ill. by Freya Blackwood. Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781743315286
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Chapter book, Family, Friendship, Pets. Two more stories in this highly appealing tale of Cleo and her family, by the award winning duo of Gleeson and Blackwood will win hearts at first glance with its two entertaining short stories and wonderful illustrations.
In Cleo makes a friend, Cleo is at a loss on this rainy day: all her friends are away and there is one she no longer cares for, so she has nothing to do. Mum and Dad both suggest things, especially one about tidying her room, but she is still desolate. She begins to play with mum's makeup but is admonished, reminded that she is not allowed in that room. Going outside she sees her reflection in the newly formed puddles and this gives her an idea of what she can do.
The second story, Cleo wants a pet, sees Cleo begging her parents to have a pet in the house. She gives all the reasons children give their parents for having a pet in the family, and they respond with all the reasons parents give for it not to happen. It is wonderfully rounded story, with Cleo resolving the matter to everyone's satisfaction.
The wonderful soft edged illustrations show Cleo's house within the few streets of her suburb. Each drawing shows a different aspect of family life, from dad watering the vegetable garden, to breakfast at the kitchen table, going to bed, family discussions and so on: all redolent of the bonds between people living in the same house. Blackwood's illustrations are inviting: readers will peer into the details presented, comparing them with what they know. I love the endpapers, giving a bird's eye view of the streets, challenging the readers to work out where Cleo lives.
Fran Knight

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