‘Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella’ by Cerrie Burnell with illustrations by Laura Ellen Anderson is a truly magical tale, which whisks you away on an amazing adventure that will weave a place into your heart. Whilst Cerrie crafts this gorgeous story, Laura charms with the most beautiful pictures.
Harper lives a seemingly ordinary life in the ‘City of Clouds’ with her Great Aunt Sassy, a place so strange that it rains every day. You think that this would be a dreary place but Cerrie even manages to make the rain sound poetic describing different types of rain as summer dew, sea mist, heartbeat and cloudburst. When her umbrella get ruined she is finally allowed to use the Scarlet Umbrella which has always been locked away in a birdcage as far back as her memories could take her. It has always been an object of curiosity for Harper and it is with great excitement that she unlocks the cage.
The magical power of her umbrella is revealed when she realises that her precious cat Midnight has gone missing and it draws her to the rest of her neighbours in the Tall Apartment. She then discovers that all of the cats in the City of Clouds have gone missing drawn towards a strange music which plays at midnight by the Wild Conductor. It is up to Harper and her friends to find out what is happening and to try and return all the cats back home.
Throughout, we meet the most interesting of characters who add to the richness and depth of the story. There is Elsie the oldest resident of the Tall Apartment with emerald green eyes who looks like a fairy-tale witch and Nate the boy who has a wolf as a pet to help him to see. All of this is wrapped up in the idea that music can bring love and joy and as such is an integral part of the story. It is such a unique tale of magic and friendship which totally captured both mine and my daughter’s imaginations.
The book itself is a joy to behold the first time I saw it I was immediately struck by the sublime cover. Throughout the book you are delighted by all the details especially the illustrations of Midnight at the beginning of every chapter and the paw prints padding their way along the story. Cerrie has created this spirited and loveable character Harper which Laura has managed to capture and enhance with her stunning illustrations.
I’m delighted that there is more to come in the next story ‘Harper and the Circus of Dreams’ as well as a special World Book Day edition ‘Harper and the Sea of Secrets.’
Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a copy of this truly special book to review.