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*Handbag Friends* by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Sue Heap

Also by Sally Lloyd-Jones:

Being a Pig Is Nice: A Child's-Eye View of Manners
Handbag Friends
by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Sue Heap
Ages 3-6 64 pages David Fickling Books July 2006 Hardcover    

Sally Lloyd-Jones' chirpy, bright pink Handbag Friends plays to the cutesy instincts of little girls enamored with all manner of purses, especially those with a tendency to carry teeny toy animals along wherever they go.

Indeed, even the story bears the hallmark of kiddie predispositions to making up fanciful tales of pretend as they go along. The eponymous Handbag Friends are six miniature animals: the hippopotamus Binky, who loves his blanket (called "Niss"); little yellow Balloon-Bird; orange-pajamaed bunny Hop-Spot; the precociously sensible cat Semolina; brave, cool-headed Harry the dog; and Loud Millie the mouse.

Each animal is introduced along with its individual catch phrase, then together they sing "The Handbag Song" (to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and rife with nonsense syllables) as a prelude to their story of finding a home in a pink handbag.

The Handbag Friends set out to rescue all the baby handbags, kidnapped and hidden away in a dark cave on Planet Pink Handbag by the evil Clasp. When The Beautiful Princess Eleanor throws a really big, really pink party in the Handbag Friends' honor and discovers that they don't have a home, she offers them free happy reign of her own pink handbag.

Parents who might be rolling their eyes behind their children's backs while reading this giddily silly tale are rewarded for their diligence at book's end with four pages of illustrated "credits" featuring nearly-familiar names - "Miss Clasp's hair by Sidal Vavoon," for example, or "Woman Under the Bush - outfit by Bolshee & Banana," or "Soundtrack by Moo Moo Ya, available on Pinktown Records."

No matter the limits of Mom or Dad's tolerance for ultra-pink silliness, though, it's ultimately worth it to see your own little princess gadding about with pink handbag in hand, alighting now and then to tell herself the story of the Handbag Friends.

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  Sharon Schulz-Elsing/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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