Reviews /

Carnival of the Clocks

Authored by Nick Sharratt
Illustrated by Nick Sharratt
Published by Barrington Stoke

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This boldly illustrated book is perfectly pitched for newly confident readers and is sure to give them a huge sense of satisfaction. The lovely Little Gems series repeatedly achieves exactly this, so deftly, that it might almost look easy. How then has author-illustrator Nick Sharratt managed to create a book that will delight KS1 readers?

Firstly, the title intrigues: what IS the carnival of the clocks? Children like carnivals and festivals, and here is a new one! As the blurb asks, (in differently coloured letters, so even if you don’t read all of it, you read this) ‘What’s going on?

Then, as the reader starts to investigate, the first few pages show multiple clocks. Each description matches an illustration and therefore supports successful reading. There is an element of surprise just as it might become predictable – they are not clocks after all; they are lanterns. Again, the question is the one children will be asking, ‘What’s going on?’

There is so much in the book to notice and perhaps discuss, but it never impedes the simple story. For example, children may or may not spot the alliteration between the children’s names and their clocks. Even if they do not, they can benefit from the impact it has on their reading. Indeed, this is a book that demands reading aloud, with onomatopoeia, plenty of repetition and a dramatic final countdown. The book reminds its readers of the names of shapes and of how to tell the time, but because it is all there in both text and illustration, the learning will be gentle and unobtrusive.

Finally, at the very end of the book, you discover what the festival is celebrating (and that it is in fact a real festival, which I hadn’t realised!). So, the structure of wondering, reading to discover, and then reaching understanding is all modelled in this tiny Little Gem. To create a story that is successful on so many levels for this age group is not easy; Nick Sharratt has done a superb job.