Back again … after a hiatus

Hello all,

It’s been far too long since I’ve updated this blog and I feel awful about it. Various things in life happened, making it very difficult for me to maintain this while trying to do my normal work, and just deal with the stuff coming my way. However, I hope to post more frequently on here from now on as and when I have books to review (which should be quite often, I hope!).

To start with a bang, or a monster, or a phone, or a dog in disguise, I hope you enjoy this selection of picture books I’ve read and loved recently. Two are new, one is older, but all are fab. Let me know what you think of them if you’ve read them!

Monster! Hungry! Phone! by Sean Taylor and Fred Benaglia, published by Bloomsbury

Monster is very hungry. He wants a pizza but he’s having trouble dialling. Will he ever get his food? What will he eat?

Anarchic, chaotic and gloriously fun, this hungry monster had the children howling with laughter. From the front cover, they suggested what was going to happen in the book – the monster was going to eat his phone! The monster was going to eat something (or someone!) else! They were on the edge of … their own seats as they tried to work out what would happen. The repetition of onomatopoeic words – tap, tap, tip, tap, tap; bling-bring built the suspense and the children couldn’t stop themselves from joining in as Monster announces: “Monster Hungry!” They could recognise, too, the growing desperation and anger as the text got bigger. 

I was a fan of Sean Taylor’s Hoot Owl for its humour and this has been equally brilliant. Fred Benaglia’s illustrations capture the chaos and hilarious desperation perfectly. This will be enjoyed time and time again by the children in my library – here and at home.

Dogs in Disguise, by Peter Bently and John Bond, published by HarperCollins

When Peter Bently publishes a new book, I have no hesitation in buying a copy (or more). His comedic picture books always go down a storm with the children in the Library, and Dogs in Disguise is no exception.

I was excited to read another book focusing on dogs, since The Great Dog Bottom Swap became one of my all-time favourite picture books. Dogs in Disguise is gloriously silly in the best possible way. Imagine dogs possessing an unknown talent of dressing up – they even learn how to do it right. Wigs, heels, beards, moustaches, martial arts kits, soldier uniforms …. there is nowhere dogs can’t infiltrate with their superior costumes, though – for obvious reasons – dressing up as a tree is a big no-no.

I chuckled all the way through this and John Bond’s illustrations are an ideal match for Bently’s words. Both combine to give us a hilarious story guaranteed to chase away the gloom of winter. A classic!

Shrek! by William Steig, published by Penguin

For a while I had tried to find a copy of Shrek so I could read the story for myself. However, I was unable to locate anything till quite recently, when I came across several or William Steig’s books in a branch of Daunts. I was excited – and hoped that the reality would live up to the expectations I had of the book.

I was not disappointed. The picture book version of Shrek! equals the film and musical. There are similarities and differences, of course, and I came away thinking both were as good as each other. The films have more detail, more nods to other fairy-tale characters, whereas the original book focuses on Shrek, his cruel family (what do you expect from ogres?) and his quest to find his true love – the Princess who is described as “a well-born fright”. She is, too. She’s not the lovely Fiona, beautiful by day and an ogre by night. She is permanently horrid, “Oh, ghastly you,/With lips of blue,/Your ruddy eyes,/With carmine styes” – this is Shrek telling her how much he adores her, by the way. Her reply? “Your nose is so hairy,/Oh, let us not tarry,/Your look is so scary/I think we should marry.”

And so they do. That’s no big spoiler – I hope.

The humour is fantastic, especially the descriptions of how Shrek overpowers everything with his sheer ugly disgustingness, and the illustrations are suitably comically grotesque. A must-read for anyone who does, or does not, like the films. 

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