Sian Griffiths selects picture books. Hungry Hyena. By Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway. Hodder Pounds 4.99.
Hungry Hyena tricks Fish Eagle out of his supper, inspiring him to take a revenge which condemns the greedy hyena to a life-time of slinking around. This animal fable combines its elemental narrative with fabulous illustrations of African exotica - pangolin and papyrus, tinged by orange and turquoise skies. The best illustration - a spread of the shadowy hyenas piled atop each other, eyes shining zreaching for the moon.
The Story of the Creation.
By Jane Ray
Orchard Books Pounds 4.99
Glistening creationist account of how our teeming world began uses gold paint and an adaptation of the rolling rhetoric of Genesis. Jane Ray tempers this Biblical majesty with childlike flat drawings and lists - "(God) filled the seas with dolphins, turtles, sharks, jellyfish, sealions and sardines." Decorative borders portray the variety of God's gifts; types of wing, beak, claw and egg. (Darwinians of course have a different explanation for the abundance of species).Winner of a 1992 Smarties book prize.
The Sea-Shell Song.
By Susie Jenkin-Pearce and Claire Fletcher
Red Fox Pounds 3.99
"As I was walking by the seaI found a shell which sang to me" - Dramatic sea-scapes from across the globe are conjured up for the small girl by the shell's echo. With the rhyming couplets sidelined into tiny boxes, each powerful illustration (ochres, purples and chilly blue-greens) sweeps across two pages; narrator dwarfed by the vastness of the views. One to read for the pictures rather than the words.
Red Fox on the Move.
By Hannah Giffard
Frances Lincoln Pounds 4.99
Shades of Farthing Wood when a bulldozer shatters the earth of a family of foxes and the race is on to find a new lair. Rich russet-red foxes sweep through this glowing picture book - movement on every page - finally settling in a wild garden on the edge of the city. A fox-eye view of man's encroachment on nature and the new possibilities of urban living for animal survival. Real suspense.