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Published: 2 Apr 2020

Paperback / softback, 32 pages

Recommended for age 3+

By Richard Jones

Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd

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The first picture book to be both written and illustrated by Richard Jones, illustrator of bestseller The Snow Lion.

Reviewed by Jo Bowers

‘Perdu is a beautifully illustrated story of a little lost dog and his search for a place to call home.’

We meet Perdu, a little lost dog in a red scarf, alone at night, with the wind howling in the countryside. He sees a spinning leaf, which he decides to follow, hoping that this may take him to a place to call home and be safe. He walks and walks until he enters a big city as the day breaks, still searching for a friend and somewhere he can call home but everywhere is hostile and unfriendly.

We see Perdu at his lowest point, ‘a scared little ball of worry’ when running away from chaos he creates in a café trying to find food to ease his hunger, he loses his red scarf. However, this red scarf finally brings him the friend and home he has been looking for. Following him throughout his journey in the city is a little girl in a knitted red hat. When she finds the scarf, she reunites it with Perdu, and, I am sure this won’t be a spoiler, as you will have guessed, she takes him home to live with her.

The illustrations are not only beautiful, but the careful use of colour helps to create the mood and emotions of the book throughout. It starts dark in the night when Perdu was lost and scared and ends with soft, warm colours when he arrives at his safe place to be. The red scarf he wears and the red knitted hat worn by the girl stand out as beacons to connect them throughout most of the book. After the initial reading, it would be a lovely way to revisit the book with young children to notice these points throughout the book and make these connections.

Richard Jones gentle storytelling is beautifully descriptive making this a perfect book to read aloud to understand the emotions Perdu feels throughout his journey both in the countryside,

‘Rain fell on his night-black coat and the grass was cold beneath his paws’

And in the city too,

‘Tick, clack, clip went the knives and forks. The food smelled wonderful…Crash, bump, clang!’

It would also make a great starting point to explore using adjectives to express feelings and convey sounds.

The story would be an excellent stimulus to explore several relevant themes with young children: the importance of making friends and belonging; feeling safe; discussing how we feel when we encounter hostility and indifference; being kind to each other and how even the smallest of gestures can have a profound impact on us.

It is a story that stays with you once read, one that I have read many times and will definitely revisit.

Jo Bowers is a Principal Lecturer in Primary Education (Literacy) at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She joined the university ten years ago and prior to that was a classroom teacher and English leader in a primary school for nineteen years. Jo has been editor of, and currently sits on the Editorial Board of English 4-11 for the English Association and the UKLA Publications Committee. Jo runs an Open University Reading for Pleasure Teacher Group for teachers in Cardiff and sits on various shortlisting and selection panels for children's book awards, currently the English Association Picture Book Award and the Books Council of Wales Tir na n-Og Award. Jo is a Wales representative for UKLA, reviews books for Just Imagine and writes for English 4-11. She is passionate about children's literature and is happiest when she is reading and surrounded by books.