Showing posts with label picture book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label picture book. Show all posts

Monday, 27 August 2018

Book Review: 'Dave Pigeon' by Swapna Haddow, Illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

Funny books. That's what our children get these days when they move off the reading scheme books at school and begin to read whole chapter books themselves. And thankfully when the books are as good as 'Dave Pigeon' that's more than OK.

Swapna Haddow has balanced the funniness with good quality writing in a way that perfectly introduces young readers to the concept of reading a longer book. The story is engaging (and funny - did I mention that?) and in this way reading stamina is really encouraged. The accompanying illustrations contribute to this - some pictures take up most of the page, allowing children to experience the feeling of having read a decent chunk of a book. The speech bubbles included in the pictures are also bound to be loved by young readers - children will feel great accomplishment as they read the text and the pictures together.

Dave and his mate Skipper are taken in by a kind human lady when Dave injures his wing. Unfortunately she also has a mean cat who, of course, must be got rid of so that the pigeon duo can live in the lap of luxury in the house, rather than the shed. Their catbrained schemes are, predictably, wildly unsuccessful until, accidentally, one of their plans does work. Even then they are faced with a further dilemma - they have to share their bounty with all the other birds in the neighbourhood. This amusing story of perseverance and resilience is a great way to introduce young children to the concept of never giving up and always trying again - who'd have thought two daft pigeons could be such good role models? 

Another huge plus for this book is that it is the first in a series. So if it hooks your child in, you can build on the momentum by getting the two follow-up books for them to read too. And as Tom Fletcher picked this for his WH Smith Book Club 2 you should have no problems getting hold of this excellent (and hilarious) book.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Book Review: 'Once Upon A Wild Wood' by Chris Riddell

There are many, many retellings and rehashings of popular traditional fairy tales, but this isn't one of them. Children who love fairy tales will love this but they will enjoy it in its own right. And that's because Chris Riddell, with his own inimitable sophisticated and dry humour, has told a new story, albeit with a whole host of favourite characters.

Know a child who's stuck on their favourite Disney princesses, and only ever wants to read those quite terrible picture book versions of the movies? This book could very well be the book that turns them onto some reading material of a little higher quality. The writing is wonderful, with seemingly more text than the average picture book, and, as is usual with Riddell, it never seems like he is talking down to his younger readers - he treats them in a grown-up way and gives them opportunities to think about new words and new concepts.

Existing fans of Riddell's books for younger readers, such as the Ottoline books, will recognise the style of storytelling and the kind of characters that are portrayed. The story's protagonist is a young girl, vastly more sensible and practical than the traditional Little Red Riding Hood, prone to solving problems but also demonstrating kindness and thoughtfulness - a great role model, in other words.

The illustrations, it really goes without saying, are incredible: the sort children pore over and return to again and again. Amusing details and such accurately drawn facial expressions provide excellent opportunities, along with the text and the plot, for adults and children to discuss the book at great length, making this a perfect book for parents or teachers to share.

Children will love spotting their favourite fairy tale characters, and may even be introduced to new ones, giving opportunity to explore classic tales which Disney haven't yet (to my knowledge) got their hands on. Rather like the Ahlbergs did with The Jolly Postman and Each Peach Pear Plum, Chris Riddell has brought new life to old stories and characters in this fantastically illustrated new tale.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Book Review: 'The Grotlyn' by Benji Davies

Before you even get to the text in this book, there is much to feast the eyes and mind on. The cover (including the one hidden under the dust jacket) and the double-page spread preceding the title page are gloriously illustrated in smokey muted hues which evoke a particular sense of place and time. The backstreets of a Victorian city are brought to life by a cast of intriguing characters. Children will linger over these pages providing adults a chance to question and discuss what can be seen - a perfect opportunity to explain exactly what a barrel organ is and does.

The title page itself furthers the intrigue with its snatch of song - what is The Grotlyn? Benji Davies does a sterling job of reeling in the reader, child and adult alike.

The first page of text sees the book set out its stall in terms of vocabulary - this is going to be rich in language: 'But what at first we think to be, The eye does blindly make us see.' Pick that apart with an 11 year old, or leave it be with a littler one - the story works on many levels. Every new page brings another beautiful turn of phrase - perfect for the budding logophile.

Once you've read this captivating rhyming text and pored over the images, you'll find yourself working your way back through it, picking up on the clues that the author skilfully weaves through both words and pictures and making sense of them in light of the uplifting (literally) ending. As the mystery unravels, children will delight in the antics of the book's protagonist, and by the end, they will be rooting for the once-frightening Grotlyn.

Every inch of the book is awash with clever and deliberate authorial choices and decisions that make several re-reads an absolute must. The illustrations alone could spark lengthy discussions when presented in or out of context - for teachers, there is so much material to use here.

For those wanting to go a little deeper, the concept of freedom is a main theme here. Should animals be kept in captivity? Why do people want to escape certain aspects of their life? What causes humans to go to great lengths, sometimes even breaking laws to attain freedom?

However this book is read, it is certain to become a favourite for all those who are fortunate enough to experience it. Benji Davies has delivered another thought-provoking, multi-layered picture book that is sure to be enjoyed by readers of all ages. 

For an interview with Benji Davies click here.