Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Newspaper Column August 2012

'Claude at the Circus' & 'Pants on the Moon'

Today's column is out in the Mid Devon/Tiverton/Crediton Gazette and is available to read below.

Claude at the Circus
by Alex T Smith
Hodder Children's Books

Claude at the Circus is so good to look at that it might as well be edible. I devoured this one in a few minutes and then went back through it, drooling over every perfect page, every striking composition and delicious layout. It is charming, hilarious and quirky, with plenty of action, as well as little morsels of detail going on in the background to amuse and delight.

We follow the bizarre escapades of an endearing little pooch named Claude as he and his best friend, a sock called Sir Bobblysock, explore their local park. As the two enjoy their new surroundings and sample the pleasures a park has to offer, from lying in flowerbeds to getting caught up in a crowd of joggers, mishaps lead to mayhem and before long Claude and Sir Bobblysock are slap bang in the middle of a circus, wowing the crowd and winning the day.

We experience all the visual delights of a picture book but with a much more expanded story, perfect for challenging early readers. Black, white and red are the only colours used, and though you might think this palette could be a little restrictive, Alex T Smith is a master artist and every page turn leaves you reeling at the gorgeous design. I need to go and buy all three Claude books for myself, but rest assured they are all available from Devon Libraries.

Although I'd like to be helpful and tell you the age range that this book will appeal to, I honestly don't think I could give you an upper age limit. Everyone will appreciate what this book has to offer, and us librarians will be very forgiving if it's returned to the library with a spot of dribble on!

Zoe and Beans: Pants on the Moon
by Mick and Chloe Inkpen
Macmillan Children's Books

Many of you will recognise the books of Mick Inkpen, with his creations Kipper and Wibbly Pig featuring in a whole bunch of brilliant stories that are read to little children everywhere each night. Mick Inkpen has teamed up with his daughter Chloe to bring us this charming new set of adventures about a small, inventive girl named Zoe and her soppy, lovable dog Beans. This story takes us from a homely garden to the faraway Moon, after a strong gust of wind carries the pair and their washing line high up in the air.

Mick Inkpen is always pleasingly playful with language and his writing is full of subtle quirks. The story requires you to leave all scepticism behind; every cynical thought and serious viewpoint, to allow yourself to be immersed in a little child's world of endless possibilities.

 Zoe is a clever little thing and always manages to get herself and Beans out of mischief. The lines between reality and imagination are blurred and you can never tell if the adventure really happened or if it was all a wonderful game. Check your local library for previous titles and watch out for the next Zoe and Beans book coming out later this year, “Hello Oscar.”

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