Crusts by Danny Parker

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Ill. by Matt Ottley. Little Hare Books, 2016. ISBN 9781742979830
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Scientific endeavour, Space travel, Aliens, Humour. Two parallel stories come together in this breathtakingly original story with stunning complementary illustrations sure to have readers pore over them with awe.
Each story has a different font allowing the reader to differentiate between them as three aliens land on earth trying to find a way back home carrying most needed bread for their planet. Jacob on the other hand will not eat his crusts and to placate his mother keeps them in the shed at the back of their home. He finds a map in his room and then males plans to help the aliens return home. He works hard on his plans, gathering crusts at school, from bins and at home, until he has enough to build what he needs to build. The aliens daunted by their task return home empty handed but Jacob has built the most amazing space craft and together with his net, takes the crusts to the crumbling planet. Here he dons his crust space suit and uses the crusts he has collected to ensure their planet is restored.
The story is wonderfully imaginative, taking a very ordinary foible, that of not eating your crusts, something many children will recognise and making it into a tale of intergalactic space travel. The story also underlines the warmth of helping others, of using your imagination, of looking beyond appearances.
The illustrations are magical, from the wonderfully long limbed humans to the long nosed aliens, the stand out galavanised iron of the buildings, to the use of the crusts. I pored over the intricacy of the crusts making up a replica of the statue of David, or the space craft, the ladder and the space suit. And if that is not enough, then each page is splendidly different, making use of a variety of styles to tell the story behind the words.
Fran Knight