Sunday 28 June 2015

'The Night Iceberg'

A night time adventure with a message about sharing....

Written & illustrated by Helen Stephens
Alison Green Books 2010 An imprint of Scholastic Children's Books
HB ISBN 978 1 407107 90 5
PB ISBN 978 1 40107 91 2
Reviewed edition: Library Copy

The Story

Back of the book- 
"This is my iceberg," said Tofta, "and I'm not going to share it with anyone!" But a grumpy penguin thinks it's his iceberg. How will they learn to share? 
One little girl, one iceberg, five hundred playful penguins......
and a magical night-time adventure!

Tofta is not one bit happy about the new baby taking over her home!
Tofta is fed up! The baby has been chewing on her rabbit toy, scrunching her favourite storybook and her bedroom isn't hers anymore- because the baby has moved in.  At night, Tofta spots a beautiful iceberg peacefully floating by her window. She packs a bag of things, tip toes out of the house and jumps on. At last, something all for herself.....until a penguin waddles up to her. After some sulking from both Tofta and the penguin, they learn to share the iceberg and Tofta's tin of sardines. Suddenly though, there is a penguin invasion. A belly sliding penguin party ensues and after much fun,Tofta feels tired and wants to go home. Her new friends guide the iceberg back to Tofta's house where she excitedly goes to her baby brother, so she can tell him all about her night time adventure.

'Freedom at last' thinks Tofta....but hang on, there's someone else
on this iceberg!'
Missus B says:
Firstly, I do love the name 'Tofta.' I have never heard it before, but it seems to suit the character perfectly. Curious about it's meaning, I discovered that it is a Swedish name, so maybe this is where our little character lives. In the back page of the book, the author explains that some of this story was influenced by a character in a Tove Jansson book- maybe the character was also called Tofta I wonder? Tove Jannson was a Swedish-speaking Finnish novelist- most famous for her wonderful Moomin characters. 

This is a lovely, sweet and original story. In households where there is a new baby, some little readers may relate to Tofta's frustration about her baby brother. She doesn't want to share and resents the fact that the baby damages her toys. In soft, warm water colours, we see the little Tofta stand in a huff with her arms folded as the text reads 'Her mummy said she had to learn to share.' 

Later, escaping to her quiet iceberg, Tofta  is initially delighted to be free from her baby brother and to at last have something to herself. But as the story continues, so does the sharing theme. Begrudgingly, she has to share her ice-berg space with a little penguin.

And later, he pit-pats up to her and stares hungrily as she eats her tin of sardines. She realises, that by sharing with him, she gets to experience a nice warm feeling -'The penguin nuzzled Tofta's arm. That felt nice.'  And, when the island is taken over by 500 penguins, reluctantly Tofta gives her last sardine to the smallest one there. His thank you snuggle is a turning point for Tofta......

The littlest penguin snuggled up to her to say thank you. He felt very soft and fluffy. Tofta gave him a cuddle.
That felt so nice, that Tofta made a big decision. She said to all the penguins:: "Would you like to share my iceberg? I can show you my sliding game."

Tofta has truly learnt how to share by the end of the story- when she returns from the iceberg, she puts her Jack Rabbit toy beside her baby brother in his cot, as she begins to tell him all about her night time adventure. 

The illustrations have a vintage, dream-like quality.  The whole story takes place at night time , Tofta is dressed in her blue night dress and there is a lovely contrast between the starry black sky and the blue/white iceberg. The illustrations are soft, warm and ever so cute. 

Love this double page spread- Tofta falls asleep wrapped 'in her
favourite jumper(which was really her Dad's)' as the penguins gently guide the iceberg back to her home

In short This story has a simple, charming appeal and combines  a quirky night time adventure with a message about learning to share.

"Wake up!' she whispered. "I have to tell you all about my iceberg!"
Happy reading, 
Missus B

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