Review Blog

Feb 20 2017

Handstand by Lisa Stickley

cover image

Pavilion, 2016. ISBN 9781843653127
Picture book. Little girls love to do handstands and Edith is no exception. She is teaching herself and each day she gets a little better increasing her upside-downness by a second each day. But each day something interrupts her concentration like the worm who popped up by her hand, the bird who used her hand for target practice and the spider that crawled down her shorts when she rested her legs against a tree. But nevertheless she keeps on practising...
This is an interesting book - its tagline is 'a kind of counting book' which it is as Edith manages an extra handstand and an extra second each day and the words and numbers are included in the illustrations. But it is also intriguing because as she encounters each little creature the creature gives its perspective on how Edith has interrupted it, offering an introduction to getting young readers to see things from another point of view. The worm pops his head above ground and sees 'a giant hand next to my preferred popping up place'. It could spark some discussion and drawing about how little girls and little boys appear to the creatures in their environment. Resilience is also a theme - how we must practise and practise to get better and not be deterred by trivial things like a spider in your knickers.
The appearance of the book is also interesting - harking back to a time when handstand competitions were features of recess and lunch break entertainment for girls of my era, the colours and style give it a definite retro feel. Even the name 'Edith' suggests a bygone time. The illustrations are also what a child the age of the narrator might draw adding to the impression that this is, indeed, a young girl telling her story, but the font, presented in the style of a child of this age might prove tricky for young readers to start with.
Even though this appears to be a counting book at first flick through, there is much more in it that can provide lots of chat between child and adult and even tempt them to try a new skill. I'm sure Miss 10 and Miss Nearly-6's eyes will boggle at the thought of Grandma being the school handstand champion a lifetime ago!!!
Barbara Braxton

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