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Pushka is a cute little circus clown who suddenly becomes caught up in a big and scary adventure. Finding himself alone in a dark forest he is tricked by a nasty giant and almost roasted in a ferociously hot oven. Luckily help is at hand from Lulu, a stringed puppet who falls in love with him. Can they help each other to escape from the evil clutches of the mean giant?
The circus train is coming to town and little Pushka is asleep in the last wagon. Unfortunately, he topples out and wakes up in fright amongst the enchanted trees of the forest. He is scared by enormous thuds on the ground but then he spies a beautiful dancing girl and instantly falls in love. Little does he know that the lovely girl, Lulu, is a puppet and there is an evil giant controlling her strings and using her to lure Pushka to danger. He finds himself in a lot of trouble when he is enticed into the giant's oven with its fierce burning flames. Luckily, the giant does not reckon on the strength of the love that Lulu feels for her new friend, at it is the power of this that helps her to save him.
''Pushka'' is an enchanting picture book with many of the elements that you would expect to find in a traditional tale – a beautiful girl, an evil enemy, an enchanted forest and at least a little hint of magic! It is an entrancing story that keeps you guessing whether Pushka and his lady love will be able to escape from the evil giant but thankfully, like all good traditional tales, there is a happy ending.
It is quite a simply written story that tends to allow the stunning illustrations do much of the storytelling. However, although most of these are quite exquisite, I found some of the pictures quite sinister and menacing and I can imagine that some small children would actually be quite scared. For this reason, I would not recommend this book for very young or sensitive children. However, my older daughter, who is eight, thinks that it is a wonderful book and appreciates the wonderful illustrations rather than being frightened by them.
The language used to tell the story is quite straightforward and there is not too much text on any page. There are some rhyming pages and also some interesting effects such as bigger and bolder print to emphasise the nearness of the giant. This book would be well within the grasp of a newly confident reader but I would suggest that it is best shared with slightly older children who, if they are like my daughter, are likely to be keen to discuss the ideas in the story.
'Pushka' is currently available in hardcover on Amazon for £7.99 (April 2012)
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk