Deborah Chancellor, The Red Flag (British Values), illustrated by Elif Balta Parks

Franklin Watts, 2017, ISBN 978-1- 4452-5652-1

All schools in England are required to teach and promote British values, one of them the rule of law. This book is part of a series on British values designed 'to explore tricky concepts through fun illustrated stories'. Josh and Jamal are playing on the beach, and Josh wants to go out in their boat and play pirates. Jamal points to a red flag and says it's a danger warning that means the sea is rough. He suggests waiting for their parents. But Josh feels Jamal is boring, and sets out to sea on his own. Before long the wind gets stronger and the waves bigger. Rain lashes down. Josh is frightened. Even though he is a strong swimmer, he's not good enough to get back to the beach. Jamal uses his mobile to ring for help. A lifeboat is soon on its way. Josh bursts into tears when he is rescued. Both sets of parents are waiting on land, very relieved to see him safe and sound. Jamal hugs Josh and proposes playing pirates the next day. 'That will be fun,' says Josh. 'But next time I'll stay on dry land!' The story is followed by a storyboard with questions such as 'Why didn't Jamal want to go out in the boat?' and then two pages of text on the purpose of the book and ideas for using it, including discussion points.

The book is accessible and easy to read, with sparse text, simple vocabulary and short sentences, a large font size and clear illustrations that help explain what is happening. Inevitably, it comes across as an issue-led text rather than an exciting story, but it covers the concept of rules and their importance for keeping people safe adequately. However for some readers the notion that children are on a beach with no adult supervision - surely vanishingly unlikely these days - may divert attention away from the core issue the book is intended for.