Finding quality reads that bridge the gap between picture books and chapter books can be a challenge. The Climbers by Stripes Publishing is part of their first chapter books range and is a superb read for those children who still seek a book with lots of illustrations but with more text in it. This is a lovely story about one young girl’s journey into the wider world with subtle and important messages about the impact of cutting down trees and the effects that it has on both wildlife and people.
Alma longs to see the world beyond her village but the villagers are fearful of the beasts and what dangers lie beyond their safe community. When Alma ventures into the forest in the middle of night and makes friends with a bear she knows she must keep him a secret. It isn’t long before the villagers find out and panic spreads. Alma knows she doesn’t belong in such a place, yet with no clear destination to go to, she and Star Bear head out into the unknown in the search for a place to call home.
Alma is a wonderful character who shines brightly with messages and lessons in being kind-hearted, courageous and open-minded. Adults can often become blinded by their views and Alma shows that it sometimes takes a child to see what adults can not. It is a book with a wonderful message that is epitomised by Alma, “Sometimes you’re only afraid of something because you don’t understand it yet.”
The setting descriptions are vivid and Standish does not hold back on her use of ambitious and challenging vocabulary. This is an excellent book for immersing young children in rich, descriptive prose. The illustrations by Alette Straathof are stunning and there is so much to admire both in the foreground and the background.
The Climbers would be a fantastic book to read with a child or to let the child read it independently and then discuss it after as there are many opportunities for deep and meaningful conversations. This is a truly beautiful book, the pages are thick and it feels likes you are holding something magical, you can almost hear the pages as you turn them and it just adds that extra special feeling.
Recommended for emerging readers of 6+.