Reviews /

The Missing Piece

Authored by Jordan Stephens
Illustrated by Beth Suzanna
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

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The Missing Piece is a warm and irresistible debut picture book by writer and performer Jordan Stephens.

Sunny loves jigsaw puzzles: ‘Whenever she finished a puzzle, Sunny would feel a warm, honey-trickle of happiness in her chest’. One day her Gran gives her a 1000-piece puzzle to complete but she finds the final piece is missing. As she visits all the homes of the families who had previously worked on the puzzle, asking if they know where it is, Sunny makes friends with a diverse group of children. Back home, Gran reveals the missing piece and Sunny learns that it is not only the finishing of a puzzle that makes her happy.

The descriptions of the different houses along the way are imaginative and would provide an interesting way to introduce young writers to the concept of similes and metaphors: the houses ‘looked like little teeth on a street that was smiling’. Early Years and KS1 children would enjoy discussing how their houses and gardens look, and how those of their friends and families may be different.

The illustrations by Beth Suzanna are colourful, bold and bright, adding more information to the text for children to explore and recognise; this is her first picture book. The diversity of the characters is an important aspect of the book that adds to the quality of the narrative, without being unnecessarily stressed.

The Missing Piece has much to tell us about friends, family, and learning new truths about ourselves. The concept behind the book works well on both a realistic and a metaphorical level and could be read aloud in class or form part of a class library for children to browse through independently. Highly recommended.