Saturday, 9 January 2021

Hector and his Highland Dancers

Hector and his Highland Dancers by Anthony Sevil, illustrated by Amy Calautti (Little Pink Dog Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9780648652892

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Mr McFowler believes that his rooster, Hector, could be a champion show bird. Hector has magnificent feathers, and he is clever enough to teach the other chickens to use the play equipment that Mr McFowler has built. But he always pecks anyone who touches him – including the show judge. When Mr McFowler discovers that Hector and his chicken friends have a special talent for highland dancing, not only do they become champions but they also have the chance to perform at the prestigious Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland.

More an illustrated short story than a traditional picture book due to the number of words, Hector and his Highland Dancers is aimed at kids aged eight to ten. Anthony Sevil’s charming tale will captivate readers from the very first page, and children will giggle at each chicken-themed character name – from Mr McFowler and Mick McClucken to Miss McFeatherlee. The strong bond between the farmer and the rooster is appealing, while Mr McFowler’s romantic reward for having faith in his chickens will make young hearts happy.

Laden with entertaining elements, Amy Calautti’s quirky illustrations add a unique layer of liveliness to the spreads. The rich reds and balmy browns throughout most of the images imbue the pages with a wonderful warmth that radiates towards the reader. Special mention must be made of the marvellous endpapers, which kids will scour for hours in search of whimsical new details.

 A vibrant and vivacious book, Hector and his Highland Dancers is a delight from start to finish. It skips nimbly through the story like chickens flitting through a Scottish jig and leaves the audience breathless for more.

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