0

Oh No, George!

Image result for oh no george

Oh No, George! is the second book (published 2012) from Chris Haughton, author of A Little Bit Lost.  It’s a bright, cheery looking story, and our version is a board book – unusually a matt finish board book, which although very beautiful does suffer more than usual from wear at the corners and spine.

George is the dopey looking hound on the front cover, and his friend/owner/companion is the longsuffering Harris.  The story in a nutshell is this: Harris goes out, George tries and fails to resist temptation and Harris returns to find the house a mess.  However, George feels shame for his impulsive actions and the second time he faces a choice he may make the right one.

There are two elements to this story that work well for me.  One is the acknowledgement of the temptation to do wrong.  My young toddler loves this book and has done for a while, and I think that’s because on some level, despite her obvious lack of experience with language, she understands what it feels like to want to do something so badly you can’t stop yourself even when you know it’s wrong. Particularly if that something is to eat a whole chocolate cake.

The other is the repetition of “Oh no, George!”. It’s hilarious.  I don’t think I realised it was hilarious until I read it out loud, but cram all the syllables you can muster into those three words and it’s very funny indeed.

Haughton has done a great job with George’s expressions, and despite the ostensible simplicity of the graphic design there is a degree of complexity to what you can see going through his head.

The best didactic children’s books address the issue of making mistakes and accepting imperfection without suggesting you should stop striving to be better.  Oh No, George! does this very well, particularly as it leaves poor George (and us) hanging at the end.  He’s far from perfect, but he’s trying to get better, as we all are and all should be.  That Harris accepts him as he is and is kind is a good lesson for any frustrated parent too.

Well worth getting hold of and reading.

Advertisements
0

Time for Bed, Fred!

It’s 8 o’clock, and time for Fred to go to bed.  He, not unsurprisingly, has other ideas.

Published in 2013, this is one of those books that is worth having as a work of art if nothing else, but it also has a funny and engaging narrative.  The incorrigible Fred tries all manner of delaying tactics to avoid bedtime but ultimately gives in.  What lifts Yasmeem Ismail’s story though is that it’s written as one half of a dialogue; the other participant being a silent (and unco-operative) Fred.

That’s not your bed, Fred!

That’s not your bed, Fred!

That’s not YOUR bed, Fred!

Oh Fred, that’s MY bed!

The repetition and the rhyme will have young listeners in fits of giggles, intensified by the scruffy illustrations of the disobedient hound.

Reading this in a voice of increasing mock-irritation is great fun and although simple enough, children of a variety of ages would enjoy it. For the very young there is plenty of language practice to be had discussing all the things that Fred does instead of going to bed.

Excellent for toddlers and pre-schoolers and good for less confident young readers to read themselves.  A fun bedtime story if you trust your child not to emulate Fred’s behaviour!

1

Seadog

Our dog is not a work dog,

A round-’em-bring-’em-home dog.

Our dog is a seadog.

Published last year in 2013, this beautifully illustrated book is an ode to a beach-loving, wave-chasing, “find-and-roll-in-fish” dog. A quick google reveals that Claire Saxby writes poetry as well as books, which makes sense because although it does have a sniff of a narrative Seadog reads like a poem, and is full of delicious nuggets of language.  Seadog is a “run-and-scatter-gulls” dog, a “jump-and-chase-the-waves” dog.  He isn’t a “sit-still-then-roll-over” dog. Those adjectival phrases will have Early Years teachers reaching for their literacy planners faster than Seadog can spook a gull.

The main message of this is of course accepting people as they are and celebrating the individual.  Sure he is scruffy and dirty and smelly, and he won’t bring back a stick, or do as he’s told, but Seadog is very much loved by his owners. And his irrepressible joi de vivre is reflected in Tom Jellett’s vibrant illustrations.

Like Seadog himself, this book reeks of personality.  It’s funny, touching and well-written and could be enjoyed on different levels by children of different ages.  A five-star find.

0

I Wish I Were A Dog

Kitty is fed up.  Dogs have all the fun.  They can play in the park, howl, chase robbers, and even be film stars.  Cats don’t do much that’s very exciting.  But Kitty’s owner thinks she’s forgotten all about being a cat and lists all the best things they do, along with some of the more stupid habits of the average dog.

Cat-owners will like this as feline independence definitely comes off best.  It’s a ‘grass is always greener’ story about appreciating what you have. Lydia Monks has a bright, witty style and the double page of the dogs in the park has plenty to point out and discuss.  The dog looks particularly miserable in the scenes showing the downside of being canine and his appearance in ‘disguise’ as a cat on the final page is quite funny.

This is a decent-enough book.  There is a positive if slightly simplistic moral and older children could benefit from a discussion about their own likes and dislikes about being themselves – would they actually want to be someone else?  In general however the story lacks any real narrative and suffers from double-standards: the poor dog looks utterly depressed when told how stupid he is and at the end he wishes to be a cat himself, somewhat undermining the book’s apparent message of self-acceptance.  The text too is printed in a bold font which is intrusive and uncomfortable to read.

Satisfactory but not satisfying.