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Handbag Friends    by Sally Lloyd-Jones & Sue Heap order for
Handbag Friends
by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Order:  USA  Can
David Fickling Books, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Its shape is just like the name of the book. Handbag Friends is a bright-colored, sturdy board book, whose cover includes a plastic carrying handle, a snap to keep the book closed, and a die-cut heart in the middle showing pictures of the characters who live inside!

Meet six friends - hippopotamus Binky 'loves his blanket'. Balloon-Bird says words in threes - like 'Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!' - and his real name is Sir Wilberforce Ping. Hop-Spot the rabbit likes fairy cakes, and says, 'One for me, one for you, and one for me as well!' Harry the dog's favorite words, are 'Not So Fast!' ('because he's strong and cool and brave'). Actually is a word used often by Semolina the cat ('because she knows important things'), while Loud Millie the mouse shouts out, 'I'ts Us! ... And we sing The Handbag Song!'

Following the song (sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star), the friends tell the story of 'how they came to live in a Pink Handbag', which begins 'Once upon a time, Far, Far Away, there was a beautiful place called Planet Pink Handbag' where ladies came in to shops and adopted handbags. But one day the handbags were kidnapped making the ladies - including princesses - very sad because they had to carry their things in a boot, a teakettle, a pail, or whatever else they could find. The saddest of all were the six friends because 'they didn't have a home'. Questing, they met the Moon Horses, who suggested where to search for the kidnapped handbags.

This innovative, engaging tale by Sally Lloyd-Jones is set in Three Episodes with words printed script-style. Illustrator Sue Heap pencil-lined the characters, then filled in their colorful outfits, set against very bright streams of blue, pink, yellow, orange, and other colors in between. (The back cover reassures readers that 'No Handbags Were Harmed During the Making of This Book' and also includes a warning - 'Small parts Not for children under 3 years of age'). The British author says, 'I've always loved stories (particularly ones with giants and monsters in them) and telling them, which I used to get in trouble for.'

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