Panda at the Door by Sarah Horne

I have loved Sarah Horne’s illustrations for Sam Copeland’s books, including Charlie Changes into a Chicken and his latest book, Uma and the Answer to Absolutely Everything. I love the way that Sarah brings out the unique personality of each character she illustrates. Sarah has just published her first book as both author and illustrator and it is such a fun read. As soon as I heard that it was about a panda with a love of Mary Poppins I knew I would love it.

Pudding the panda lives at Edinburgh Zoo. Everyday she makes people smile, and at the end of the day, she snuggles in to her pen and watches Mary Poppins on her TV. Her keeper, Gerald, gave her the DVD when she first moved to the zoo as a young cub, and it helped her to feel less lonely. What Pudding really wants though is a real family to take care of, like Mary Poppins. Gerald tells Pudding that the zoo are sending her away to China, but Pudding is determined to run away before that happens. Luckily, Pudding discovers that there is a family close by in need of help, so she sets off to find them. On the day that Pudding escapes, it is Callum Campbell’s ninth birthday. Callum comes home from school to find his dad storming out of the house. His parents have forgotten all about his birthday, and the only present he gets is a certificate telling him that he has adopted a panda. The next day, Pudding turns up on the Campbell’s doorstep, ready to turn their lives around. However, news spreads about Pudding’s escape, and a large reward is offered for his return. The Campbell’s horrible neighbours are certain that the panda is hiding at their house and they are intent on getting the reward. With some panda cakes, some clever disguises, and a spoonful of sugar, Pudding just might be able to bring the Campbell family closer together.

I adore Panda at the Door! It is brimming with heart and humour. I fell in love with Pudding the panda from the very first page and her antics kept me smiling right until the final page. Much like her idol, Mary Poppins, she changes the lives of those around her for the better and her positivity is infectious. The Campbell family have a few problems, and it seems that only a loveable panda can help.

The story is a lot of fun to read, and it would be wonderful to read aloud (especially to 6-10 year-olds). It is Sarah’s illustrations that make the story even better. So many of the illustrations made me chuckle, whether it is Mrs Campbell fainting in the hallway with her legs in the air, or Pudding dressed up like the Queen.

I love Sarah Horne’s first book as author and illustrator and I hope to read many more.

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