In Tug of War, Naomi Howarth retells a west African folktale about lonely but wily Tortoise who wants only to make a friend. When both Elephant and Hippo spurn his overtures and belittle him, Tortoise hatches a plan. He invites them to take part in a tug of war with him, using a vine as a rope. Neither realises they are actually in contest with each other, until the vine snaps and both fall flat on their backsides. Tortoise’s cleverness wins them over.

Everyone likes to see bullying braggarts outwitted by the underdog. Howarth brings a gorgeously vibrant style to her watercolour and lithography illustrations, and flora and fauna are depicted with a naturalist’s eye for detail.

Tug of War, by Naomi Howarth, Frances Lincoln, RRP£11.99, 32 pages

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