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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A sequel, a crocodile and a missing spoon

November 26 2014

It would seem like Julia Donaldson is our go to author. She does seem to have an ability to tell the right length of stories for toddlers. The stories are engaging and entertaining with a pleasant rhythm. One of her inspirations is Edward Lear. The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-cat is probably one of her most crafted books. She has taken the characters and setting from the original Owl and The Pussycat and added characters and settings from the rest of Lear's world, the Chankly Bore and The Pobble Who Has No Toes make appearances. It reads as a song, so some of the words are repeated on the page when they could probably manage without. I'd say it wasn't one of Linus' favourites, I think he humours me when I'm reading it. I do find it quite pleasant and Charlotte Voake's illustrations are quite evocative of Lear's era rather than a more modern approach. Voake has recently had published her illustrations of Lear's original, which is now available in two or three more recent copies. Lear's work is now out of copyright so there are free downloadable editions of all his works on Kindle, etc. If you want to see someone exhaust limericks then download away.

Lear did have his own unfinished sequel, The Children Of The Owl and The Pussycat, it opened well:

Our mother was the Pussy-cat, our father was the Owl,
And so we're partly little beasts and partly little fowl,
The brothers of our family have feathers and they hoot,
While all the sisters dress in fur and have long tails to boot.

The next book is quite far removed from Edward Lear, although I think he'd approve of the silliness that is Open Very Carefully. I can't really describe it without giving the plot away, it is what they do on Amazon to sell it. It starts as a bedtime story book that is invaded by a random crocodile who not only eats the letters and words, he attacks the pages too. It's very different and very fun. Linus always looks slightly bemused by its randomness, so I think the inverting of the storytelling process is aimed a little bit older. We do enjoy it. Nicola O'Byrne's illustrations are superb, the words, that haven't been eaten, are by Nick Bromley.

Finally, we revisited Happy Harry's Cafe . My comedy brain must be very inactive as I hadn't noticed this was based on an old Vaudeville Jewish gag about a Jewish guy in a restaurant complaining to a waiter about his soup. The man insists the waiter tries the soup, the waiter refuses, saying he will get a replacement. "No, no, no" says the man, "you need to try this soup, it is terrible". "OK, OK!" relents the waiter, "now, where did you put the spoon?". "Exactly" replies the man.

Happy Harry is the waiter and Matt the Cat the spoonless customer, if only he'd had a runcible one! Michael Rosen's book is humorously illustrated by Richard Holland. There's a song and a page of laughter (and I added tickles!), we like it.

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