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In Abracazebra, there is a quiet town – Yawnalot – where people quietly get on with their day. With nothing else to do, they watch Goat patch up his old boat. Then Abracazebra arrives, with a dazzling magic show. She shows them different wonders each night. Everyone thinks she’s wonderful. Except Goat that is, who is deeply jealous of the attention.

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He contains his dislike for her but then, horror of horrors, Abracazebra decides that she wants to stay in the town for good. Goat cannot allow that to happen. He starts to spread rumours about her. What about the extra mouth to feed? How can they really trust an animal with stripes like that? And so, although no one is happy about it, a sign goes up: “NO STRIPES ALLOWED”.

Abracazebra goes away before anyone notices. Goat realises he’s made a terrible mistake and finally he does the decent thing – he takes his boat off in search of her, and all the other animals go with him.

Of course they find her and of course she accepts his apology. They live contentedly with the magic shows continuing.

There are other books that have a newcomer ruffle some feathers – Barry the Fish with Fingers by Sue Hendra is a brilliant example. That was humorous. This takes the issue seriously. For the community to reject the zebra just because of her stripes – my kids were completely shocked about it (thank goodness). But this does happen doesn’t it? And stories for children should sometimes reflect the adult world.

We particularly liked the detailed illustrations – most especially when Abracazebra does her magic show, which dazzle on the page.

I’m not sure that the rhyming text was necessary – I think it would have done fine without it. But the rhyming at least is tight.

A good book about a serious subject.

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