Book Review

Picture Book Mini Reviews [3].

One of my 2013 reading resolutions was to read more picture books. I’m going to share my thoughts on these books in mini reviews throughout the year.

I Do Not Eat the Colour Green by Lynne Rickards and Margaret Chamberlain. Hodder & Stoughton.
I really loved this book. It’s a fun story about a girl who refuses to eat anything green – even green sweets! I felt able to identify to a certain extent with this, though green sweets are generally my favourite, and I know other people who refuse to eat a certain colour – I’m sure parents of fussy eaters will definitely enjoy the humour (and message) in this book. The book is written in rhyme which gives it a really nice rhythm – definitely a great book for reading aloud.

Again! by Emily Gravett. MacMillan Children’s Books.
This is another funny book, it made me giggle all the way through. Again I think a lot of parents will identify with the parent dragon having to read and re-read the book to their demanding child. The book has an interesting structure, the story isn’t obvious which I liked. I loved the illustrations, the dragons are really very nice.

Lulu and the Best Cake Ever! by Emma Chichester Clark. Harper Collins Children’s Books.
This is a tale from Wagtail Town, an ongoing series, there is quick introduction to characters at the beginning which makes it easy for new readers or for existing readers to refamiliarise themselves with the characters. It is a nice story about it being okay not being the best / winner and highlights that everyone has their own things that they’re good at. The illustrations are lovely, there’s lots to explore – speech bubbles, labels etc which make it ideal for re-reading.

Book Review

Picture Book Mini Reviews [2].

One of my 2013 reading resolutions was to read more picture books. I’m going to share my thoughts on these books in mini reviews throughout the year.

Babbit by Lydia Monks. Egmont UK.
This is a fantasy story, Babbit (a soft toy) gets kidnapped by some scary creatures and is rescued by the two girls who own him – the Big One and the Little One. If I’m honest I didn’t think the story actually made all that much sense – I think it’s a book to enjoy and not think about too deeply! I think this book would be excellent for reading aloud, the text throughout the book is in variable sizes giving the reader all the necessary cues for how loud to read each bit.

Walter & the No-Need-To-Worry suit by Rachel Bright. Harper Collins Childrens’ Books.
This book is part of the “The Wonderful World of Walter & Winnie” series. The story is all about Walter being a worrywart, and focuses on how his friends helped him to overcome his worries. I loved the way the book begins by describing Woolybottom, where the characters live, it shows their houses and who lives in all the others – this reminded me a little of the map in the Milly-Molly-Mandy books I adored as a child. I thought this book was really funny, there are lots of little things to notice in the pictures – it would be fun read again and again.

The Scariest Monster in the World by Lee Weatherly & Algy Craig Hall. Boxer Books.
This is a really sweet story, a horrible scary monster gets hiccups and gets upset when everything he tries doesn’t work. The animals he usually scare help – eventually finding a way to stop his hiccups. It’s a funny book with a really nice message about friendship, I really enjoyed reading it and think it would be a lovely book to share with a group – it could be a great starting point for discussions.

Book Review

Book Review : Mr Stink by David Walliams.

MrStink“Mr Stink stank. He also stunk. And if it was correct English to say he stinked, then he stinked as well…”

It all starts when Chloe makes friends with Mr Stink, the local tramp. Yes, he smells a bit. But when it looks like he might be driven out of town, Chloe decides to hide him in the garden shed.

Now Chloe’s got to make sure no one finds out her secret. And speaking of secrets, there just might be more to Mr Stink than meets the eye… or the nose.

After reading and enjoying The Boy in the Dress I was really looking forward to reading Mr Stink. I got caught up in the story really quickly, and finished the book in one sitting.

The story is one big moral story about appearances being deceptive and how important it is to look more deeply at people rather than just accepting them at face value and making judgements about them. It never feels preachy or like a moral story though, this is all cleverly woven into the story. I loved the way that over the course of around 270 pages all of the key characters go on a real journey, with the exception of Raj (who should never change), they all end the book very differently to how they start it.

Chloe is a lovely main character, there were parts of her that really reminded me of me when I was 12. I loved her creativity and her focus on doing the right thing even when it was hard for her to do so. Mr Stink is a great creation though at times some of the descriptions of him or the things he did were a little on the gross side for me – I’m sure young readers will absolutely adore him. I was so pleased to see Raj featured in this book as well as The Boy in the Dress, I’m looking forward to seeing whether he appears in Walliams’ other books.

Mr Stink been adapted by the BBC and will be shown over the festive period with Hugh Bonneville playing the title role, I couldn’t quite imagine how this would work before I started reading but within the first couple of chapters I could see that the casting is perfect. The adaptation also stars Sheridan Smith and Johnny Vegas with an appearance from David Walliams. I have it highlighted ready in my festive TV guide, I can’t wait to see it.

Mr Stink is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books in the UK.

Book Review

Book Review : The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams.

TheBoyInTheDressThe sparkling debut children’s novel from David Walliams, co-creator and co-star of the multi-award-winning Little Britain.

Dennis was different.

Why was he different, you ask?

Well, a small clue might be in the title of this book…

Charming, surprising and hilarious – The Boy in the Dress is everything you would expect from the co-creator of Little Britain. David Walliams’s beautiful first novel will touch the hearts (and funny bones) of children and adults alike.

Over the course of the placement I did in the summer I learnt that David Walliams’ books are hugely popular (along with Jacqueline Wilson, Andy Stanton and Jeff Kinney his books were the most requested by the children visiting the mobile library) so I knew I had to investigate for myself and find out what all the fuss was about. The fact that the BBC adaptation of Walliams’ second book Mr Stink is due on telly in the next few weeks prompted me to get and request a couple of books from the local library, I thought I’d start with The Boy in the Dress as it was the first book he’d written.

The fact that the illustrations in the book were done by Quentin Blake made me wonder whether Walliams could be taking the place of the current generation’s Roald Dahl, but I was pleased to discover within a few pages that actually Walliams is simply this generation’s David Walliams – a skilled, humorous, thought provoking storyteller. There was a real depth to the story that I really hadn’t been expecting, whilst there are lots of funny bits there are also many bits that make you think and may well encourage discussions with young readers.

Dennis is a lovely lead character, I found I was really rooting for him from the very start of the book. His friendships with Darvesh and Lisa are so well created, I could imagine them clearly. I found Dennis’ dad and brother to be really interesting characters, I liked the way that the less positive characters were portrayed over the course of the book in a sympathetic manner rather than as pantomime style villains.

My only slight misgiving with this book came with the resolution of one part of Dennis’ problem. Without wanting to spoil the plot for anyone all I’ll say is that I felt that Dennis and Lisa’s treatment of one of the adult characters didn’t really feel to me like it fitted with the rest of the book which was a real shame. It didn’t spoil my overall experience of the book however, I’ll certainly be recommending it to other people and am looking forward to reading Mr Stink very soon.

The Boy in the Dress is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books in the UK.