Review of small press and independent books.
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I think we need another category for books like this: ones that have an interesting story, and nice complex pictures to discuss with the person whose knee you're sitting on, but have only a few words on each page, in big print, so you can start to make them out for yourself.
Little Troubleblossom's favourite this week is 'This is the Bear' by Sarah Hayes and Helen Craig (Walker Books, 1986, although the edition we've got is 2011 as a boxed set with its three sequels). Oh dear, somebody just woke up... details later...
Eep, I wasn't meaning anything quite this grandiose, Kay... just that I couldn't fit this kind of thing into any of the 'Little Troubleblossom Recommends' threads that I've started already, so I needed to start yet another...
Anyhow, Madam's enthroned in Daddy's chair with 'Thomas the Tank Engine' on auto-repeat, so we may actually get this review finished. 'This is the Bear' is still Troubleblossom's ongoing favourite. There are three main characters: the Bear, who has seen better days, the Boy who owns him, and the gleefully anarchic Dog, who may end up saving the day, but usually because he started the trouble in the first place. The verse is simple, clear and well-crafted:
'This is the bear who fell in the bin.
This is the dog who pushed him in.
This is the man who picked up the sack.
This is the driver who would not come back...'
and the bear is off for a scary adventure at the municipal dump, eventually to be tracked down by the remorseful (but irrepressible) dog. The print is large and clear, with a single line to every page, and the verse is simple and repetitive enough to be memorable without becoming stilted or boring, while the illustrations are complex without being crowded. Troubleblossom's favourite is the second in the series, 'This is the Bear and the Scary Night', in which the bear gets left in the park overnight and is abducted by an owl; the series also includes 'This is the Bear and the Picnic Lunch' and 'This is the Bear and the Bad Little Girl'. The CD of all four stories being narrated/acted, by a fairly impressive cast including Danny John-Jules, Bill Oddie and Brian Blessed, is another of Troubleblossom's great joys, and we haven't heard anything else in the car for a fortnight.
Last edited by RDGardner (2011-09-05 11:46:58)
Another quick review because it's going back to the library as soon as Troubleblossom wakes up - 'Ellie's Shoes' by Sarah Garland, illustrated by the author (2001, Red Fox). I've come across Sarah Garland's work before and liked it, but Little Troubleblossom is particularly pleased with this one. It's time for Ellie to get dressed, and her garments are strewn through the house. On each page, Mum is asking "Where's your ...., Ellie?" and Ellie is pointing to the vest draped over the teddy bear, the shorts hanging over the banisters, the socks being used as egg-cosies on the breakfast table... but when it comes to her shoes, Ellie doesn't know. There follows a great shoe hunt, looking in all the places only too familiar to the parents of a two-year-old, such as under the bed, behind the cat, in the bin and down the toilet, until the shoes are finally revealed, with a little help from the dog, and we end with 'One shoe, two shoes, Ellie's dressed!' The illustrations are lovely - clear and clean while being complex and lifelike at the same time, and the few words in large, clear print on every page make it an ideal first reader.
This month's joy: 'Pants' by Giles Andreae and Nick Sharratt, Picture Corgi, 2003. Small pants, big pants, giant frilly pig pants... I picked this up at the library without stopping to open it, because the combination of words by Giles Andreae, pictures by Nick Sharratt and a subject like 'pants' has to be a winner. Sure enough, it's been Troubleblossom's three-times-a-day book this month. It has a very simple text that is just a list of various types of underwear, with a complex repeating rhyme, illuminated at some odd tangents by Nick Sharratt's distinctive super-clear, stylised illustrations. Loose pants, tight pants, lighting up at night pants, black pants, white pants, no pants at all!