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Amy & Louis (Amy and Louis)
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This is the sort of picture book that parents will treasure and hold onto long after their children have outgrown it. Amy & Louis is aimed at the very young reader (3-plus) and Libby Gleeson has written a gentle, moving story of friendship and the sadness felt when a friend goes away. There's a sparse poetry to Gleeson's words. She describes the two friends and their imaginative play and then the loneliness that settles when they are parted. 'In the place where Amy was, there was nowhere to dig holes or build towers, and the clouds held only raindrops.' Freya Blackwood's illustrations capture the sensitivity and the essence of the story most beautifully. There's a delightful innocence to her pictures and, when Amy moves away and the colour seeps out of the illustrations, the sadness of both children is palpable, even without reading the text. This would be a perfect book for any small child having to deal with loss. There's no falsely optimistic ending, but there is a smile and a sense of hope as Louis calls to his friend with all his strength and, across the world, Amy wakes up happy having dreamt of her friend. Katherine Lyall-Watson has been a bookseller, children's storyteller and editor

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