As soon as I saw Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella, I had to read it. The lovely illustrations! The cute title! The adorable cat! The yellow raincoat (just like mine)! It’s the perfect children’s book for me, written by TV presenter Cerrie Burnell and with pictures by one of my favourite children’s illustrators, Laura Ellen Anderson. And it was just magical.
‘Once there was a girl called Harper who had a rare musical gift. She heard songs on the wind, rhythms on the rain and hope in the beat of a butterfly’s wing.’
Harper lives with her Great Aunt Sassy and black cat Midnight. One day, her beloved umbrella breaks. This is unthinkable in the City of Clouds, where it rains almost every day. Sassy shouts to Harper to use the scarlet umbrella. As she opens it up, Harper discovers that it’s no ordinary umbrella – it’s magical! Her glee quickly vanishes upon discovering that Midnight is missing, along with the rest of the neighbourhood cats! Off Harper goes on a series of adventures to find the cats, with a little help from the scarlet umbrella.
Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella is a pure delight. It’s colourful and lyrical, with a lovely amount of detail about the City of Clouds. I particularly enjoyed reading about the different kinds of rain! It also features one of my favourite illustrations in children’s lit so far: a spread of the cats playing in the Midnight Orchestra, which is just glorious. Harper is a dedicated and brave young girl, determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of the missing cats. But she doesn’t mind asking for help. I adored Harper’s new best friend Nate, who is visually impaired, and his loyal wolf Smoke, as well as the other helpful children that find Harper along the way.
Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella is a wonderful children’s story about friendship, cats and celebrating a love of music. I loved it so much that even though I borrowed it from Jim, I now have my own copy! I can’t wait for Harper and the Sea of Secrets, one of the World Book Day 2016 books, and the next book in the series, Harper and the Circus of Dreams.
Published: October 2015