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Stories for stowaways;Children's Books

ANGEL AND THE BOX OF TIME. Michael Foreman. Andersen pound;9.99.

MILO AND THE MAGICAL STONES. Marcus Pfister. North-South pound;12.95.

WHEN JESSIE CAME ACROSS THE SEA. Amy Hest. Illustrated by P J Lynch. Walker pound;10.99.

LITTLE STOWAWAY. Theresa Tomlinson. Illustrated by Jane Browne. Julia MacRae pound;9.99.

Picture books to dazzle and enchant while journeying to faraway places. Jane Doonan reviews a selection

Young readers can journey through time, along moral paths and across the seas without reaching for a coat this winter.

Angel and the Box of Time travels past, present and future simultaneously when Angel, the grandchild of an itinerant performer, discovers an amazing box of props. Scene by scene, she recovers the history of her performing forefathers, from present-day urban America to a settlement on the Prairies, then further back to shacks in the Klon-dyke, an Indian camp near St Louis, an immigrant ship from the port of Naples and a field of goats in the Italian campagna 250 years ago.

Michael Foreman conjures art to enchant from mixed media: water paints, pencil and pastel bring transparency, opacity and a myriad textures in a kaleidoscope of colour.

Milo and the Magical Stones, also illustrated by its author, encompasses a moral journey, with the path dividing midway as the pages split horizontally, enabling readers to travel to alternative happy and sad endings.

Milo the mouse, living on an island with his friends, finds a glowing stone which gives off light and heat. All the other mice want one, but the wise old mouse Balthazar reminds them that the stones belong to the island.

Pfister is an accomplished illustrator; water-based paints merge to carve out the mysterious caves, the waves break in Hokusai lace caps and the mice are full of scamper. The magic stones are represented by holographic paper in gold, silver and rainbow colours - truly a dazzling tale.

When Jessie Came Across the Sea takes us on a transatlantic journey from Europe at the end of the 19th century. Jessie, though only 13, is selected by her rabbi to go to America, the promised land. She leaves behind her beloved grandmother and her late mother's wedding ring; she takes with her the skills of sewing lace and the intention of sending for her grandmother one day.

P J Lynch, a former Kate Greenaway medallist, gives his paintings 19th-century literariness and a high moral purpose to match the text. Fully modelled forms are complemented by his skill at suggesting different kinds of reflection - radiance, sheen, lustre, glint and glisten.

A current of fact flows within the fiction of Little Stowaway. John Robert, at the age of 12, won a medal for rescuing a drowning man. The text tells "the true story" of how, as a boy, he stowed away on the trawler his father worked on and spent a week at the fishing grounds of Dogger Bank. Jane Browne's illustrative style has a dream-like quality with cleanly outlined shapes and minimal detail. Hues are subtle and include a full hand of beautiful greys.

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