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A bigger picture

FOOTPRINTS IN THE FOREST. By Taahra Ghazi and Eileen Browne. (also available as a small book). MARY, JUMA AND SIMBA THE DOG. By Helen Day and Chitra Parvathy Merchant (also available as a small book). IN THE EYE OF THE STORM. By Lucy Marcovitch. ActionAid. Hamlyn House, Macdonald Road, Archway, London N19 5PG. Tel: 020 7561 7561. E-mail:


Big Books pound;17.25 each; small books pound;5.75 each

Tom Deveson looks at books that broaden children's views of the world, present and past.

ActionAid is Britain's third largest non-governmental development agency, working in more than 30 countries to help communities overcome poverty. Its Big Books are a welcome supplement to the sometimes dull menu of the literacy hour, and these are well worth their price.

Footprints in the Forest, illustraed right, set in the hills of southern India, features an inventive girl entrusted with the task of collecting flowers for a festival. Watched over by a benevolent spirit-tiger, she fulfils her duty but not before the story has touched delicately on the issue of how her people's land is being taken from them.

Mary, Jumba and Simba the Dog live in Kenya. Their story is a comedy about an omnivorous dog that seems to have devoured a necklace. Before the real culprit, an opportunist ekegonkuru bird, is tracked to its lair, the children and their pet cause all kinds of disruption in the streets of Mombasa.

In the Eye of the Storm introduces a real family in Bangladesh, who are seen in bright, appealing photographs. Faced by the threat of a cyclone, they retain their humour, their resourcefulness and their desire for education.

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