Sometimes, in a children’s picture book, you need pure unadulterated fun! Maverick Arts Publishing are the masters of producing picture books that are all about an entertaining story for young children. The Book Monsters advent choice for December 10th is Bonkers about Beetroot, written by Cath Jones and illustrated by Chris Jevons.
I saw this book floating around social media and requested a review copy, firstly because I love Chris Jevons’ illustrations and secondly because it just looked great! Also, as someone who is not a big fan of beetroot, I wanted to find out what went bonkers over it!
This tells the story of a safari park which has stopped receiving visitors. The animals, in fear of losing their homes, concoct a crazy plan to get them back. Well, Zebra does. He decides to grow the biggest beetroot in the world! All the while, nervous penguin exclaims that it’s a “bonkers” idea. Well they grow their beetroot, and it gets a little out of hand, it takes over the park completely, so the zebra has to eat his way through it, to rather hilarious results!
Firstly, I must say that I’m generally a little worrisome when it comes to zoos. I understand where conservation is concerned they play an important role, but the idea of wild animals enclosed doesn’t sit comfortably with me. But this book is set in a safari park which is quite a different thing, and Chris has done a wonderful job of representing it as a large open natural feeling habitat, where the animals can roam about, moving away from small cages and enclosures often shown in picture books. It’s very nicely done and represents these kinds of parks in a much more positive light.
I love that this story is just a huge amount of fun. It’s an absolute joy to read out loud. Playing the parts up, such as the indignant penguin and his protestations, or the overly enthusiastic zebra. Such great characters that you can play up to with children, adding to the fun. It’s really nicely written.
Chris’s illustrations in this book are absolutely glorious. He masters colour brilliantly. The pictures are bright, bold and fun, varying from full page landscape scenes, to simple sparse backgrounds with the animals standing out, making for an eye catching and absorbing book. The animals are gorgeous, so full of personality, you can really get how they’re feeling from their expression, which is great for getting children to think about empathy within the book.
Bonkers about Beetroot has plenty to offer. It shows the process needed to grow plants (something we are often asked for as part of school projects) and teaches children not to give up, to fight for what they believe in and not be put off by people who may doubt them. But fundamentally, this is just a brilliantly fun and of course bonkers story for children.