The Misadventures of Frederick

Publisher: Two Hoots

Emily is playing in the forest when she sees a rather wistful boy watching her from a grand house opposite. Dashing off a note and folding it into a paper plane, Emily asks the boy out to play, but Frederick's mum refuses, remembering what happened last time. So, Frederick writes an extremely polite note expressing his regrets.

Yet Emily won't give up on Frederick: she invites him to climb trees, ride bikes and go swimming in the lake, all of which Frederick declines in a series of beautifully composed notes, citing worries over broken bones, hornet stings and the risk of catching pneumonia. Finally, Emily wins him over. Will any of his fears come to pass - and what's more important, anyway?

There is so much to love in this sophisticated, skilful picture book about 'feeling the fear and doing it anyway'. Emma Chichester Clark perfectly depicts Frederick's luxurious but stifling surroundings, which contrast perfectly to the vibrancy of nature outside; Frederick's flowery language contrasts with Emily's straightforward notes.

There's a subtle message to parents about trying not to be too overprotective of little ones, as well as a reminder that such protectiveness can breed anxiety.

Beautiful, amusing and thought-provoking.

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