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Max the Brave, by Ed Vere, Puffin £11.99, 32 pages
The virtues of simplicity are made very clear in Ed Vere’s latest picture book. Max the kitten is drawn as an inky silhouette with yellow eyes and a purple nose. The other animals he meets on his quest to find a mouse to chase aren’t depicted much more elaborately. Vere’s illustrations make wonderful use of space and fields of flat colour. His minimalist visual style is unusual and striking, the perfect complement to a strong, straightforward narrative.
Max fancies himself brave and fearless rather than merely cute, and resents having a pink bow put on him. When he does finally locate the elusive mouse, however, the wily rodent tricks him by directing him to a large sleeping monster instead. Max nearly comes a cropper but, after surviving the encounter, his courage is unbroken, if not undimmed.
The bold immediacy of Vere’s pictures, coupled with a loveable central character, makes Max the Brave one of those cherishable picture books designed to withstand repeat bedtime readings.