Thomas Docherty
(Templar Publishing)

Ruby Nettleship loves to climb, slide, run and jump and when she is not doing that, she likes to dream of magical adventures. She also dreams that someone will come and sort out the park near her house because the slide doesn’t slide, the roundabout doesn’t go round and only one swing is still working. So when Ruby comes across a magic ice-cream van and is offered a magical ice-lolly stick, Ruby knows what it is she wants to do with it. And so begins a magical adventure which includes slides and swings shooting from the ground, growing over the town, through supermarkets, carrying children, adults wild animals and all sorts! But in the end, will Ruby get what she really wants, a new playground?

This is a lovely picture book from Thomas Docherty, whose wife Helen co-wrote the story. We really enjoyed the quirkiness of the story and loved the artwork which I find vibrant. Docherty’s use of  colours is perfect to illustrate the fantansy and magical side of the story. And of course, there is the glitter on the front cover which very pleased my girly girl! This book oozes happy vibes. Ruby is a such a smiley girl when she is on the swing and her positivity seems to be contagious both with humans and animals. But we see another side of Ruby at the beginning of the book, staring at the run-down playground in her estate. Many of the young audience who will have this read to will have little or no experience of similar places and therefore this story is a perfect opportunity to introduce children to differing surroundings and social backgrounds. I always welcome picture books with inner-city settings. After all, we don’t all live in the beautiful countryside, à la Princess Poppy. Ruby is a gorgeous little girl who knows what she wants and is not afraid to do something about it. She is a great little role model.
I really enjoyed the positivity of this book; I mean, most picture books are “happy” books, but this is more edgy because of its realism.  Definitely one to recommend for those who want a bit of “more” than just a happy story!