Tag Archives: Carmen Saldaña

Free-Range or average?

I have here two lovely picture books, and I’m trying to decide if they are ‘the same’ or the complete opposite of each other.

Free-Range Freddy by Rachel Bright, and with the brightest pictures by Izzy Evans, tells the tale of Freddy, who is anything but average. He pops out of his egg – I believe he is a chicken – all blue and rainbow coloured, and the proportions of his body are not exactly the same as everyone else’s.

But that’s just the beginning. Freddy also has ideas of what to do and when, and he is a bit noisy and generally very colourful in his behaviour. But you know what? The hens and the other animals get used to him after a while, and then they realise he’s bringing the best out in them. And everyone’s happy.

Whereas Wendy Meddour’s Howard the Average Gecko, with un-average illustrations by Carmen Saldaña, is about Howard who rather fancies himself as special; really unusual. Because he blends in with his surroundings, and he has never seen anyone else doing that.

Until his surroundings make themselves noticed when they tell Howard he’s merely average and that the world is full of creatures looking like what they are next to. That’s why he’s never seen them. But if Howard’s not special, then who will be able to like him? Howard is in crisis mode when…

So, yes, they are different. But also the same. Both are sure of themselves, and one is unique and one isn’t. Or at least, not in the way he’d imagined.

The Robin and the Reindeer

The time has come to mention books for Christmas. I’ve been sitting on this one for some time, and it is Very Sweet. The Robin and the Reindeer by Rosa Bailey and illustrated by Carmen Saldaña is the very thing you need if you want to feel good about the approaching festive season.

A young reindeer is moving through her first snow with the herd with all the other reindeer, heading south before the weather gets too cold. It’s a bit Bambi, in a way, except mother stays alive and the large male lead reindeer is not her father, but the feeling is quite similar.

She gets lost. But she stays safe because she actually remembers what her mother told her. And then she meets a friendly robin. He is very red, and he agrees to show her the way, and does so by sitting on her nose, shining in a tremendously red sort of way.

Is it real? Or does our little reindeer magically turn into a temporary Rudolf?

Anyway, our reindeer finds her herd again and all is fine. Lovely and wintery and will lead the way to Christmas.