When this 380-page collection, proceeds from which go to NHS Charities Together, was first available online during lockdown, doubtless the hope was that it would feel less necessary when it came out in hardback. But we need happy endings now more than ever. The stories and poems celebrate animals, nature, courage, kindness and books. They include tales about finding friends or overcoming fears, and many have surprising twists or jokes, with illustrations that suggest anticipation or happiness. Rundell’s definition of hope is not “the promise that everything will be all right, but a belief that the world has so many strangenesses and possibilities that giving up would be a mistake”.
A few have offered extracts from published works (the equivalent of handing in a shop-bought cake for your domestic science homework?) or semi-promotions for their books, but most have created new work. These joyous gobbets, all beautifully snappy, are perfect for a bus journey to school or a golly-is-that-the-time bedtime literary scamper. The anthology is best dipped into rather than read from cover to cover. The stories and poems in the themed sections — cats, birds, aliens and outer space etc — can feel a little samey when read consecutively.