Manley’s words are perfectly pitched, spare and funny; Chichester Clark, one of our finest writers and illustrators for very young children, pumps colour into Frederick’s life in her exquisite illustrations.
Outdoor scenes full of birds and squirrels, lit by autumnal sunshine, and indoor scenes of dim splendour, into which nature progressively intrudes, make this picture book a gorgeous object that deserves sustained attention.
In picture books, The Misadventures of Frederick by Ben Manley and Emma Chichester Clark is a delight. Frederick lies, bored, in a gloomy mansion, until a paper aeroplane flies in, inviting him to join Emily for an ice-cream. Afraid of the consequences, Frederick sends his excuses (“It is with bitter regret that I inform you I may not come out to eat ice-creams today”), until eventually vivid colours creep into his tenebrous rooms, and he yields to persuasion. The Edward Goreyesque tone of Frederick’s correspondence and the vibrancy of Chichester Clark’s images weave together in a tale of sly wit and sunlit joy.