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Saturday, 15 November 2014

Cuckooville, Stick, Peepo

November 15 2014

Linus requested Welcome to Cuckooville for one of tonight's books. Written by Susan Chandler and illustrated by Delphine Durand, it is a most unique book. Chandler has written several books, the most familiar being Vegetable Glue. Vegetable Glue has an obvious educational element of teaching healthy eating in a fun way. Cuckooville, on the other hand, is, in a good way, a lot of nonsense. It's so batty I could imagine the great British entertainer Stanley Unwin reading it. We haven't got any other Delphine Durand books, but a scroll through those available on Amazon shows that she is an illustrator, like Nick Sharratt and Axel Scheffler, who has her own unique world of characters. Her figures are amongst the most interesting and amusing I've seen. It's another book that I can see having many more years of entertainment for us.

After Cuckooville, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's Stick Man is a much more sensible story. As a sort of sequel to the Gruffalo's Child, a cynic could think that this was just cashing in on Gruffalo popularity and adding a Christmas element, that most definitely isn't so. I'd say along with A Squash and A Squeeze this is my favourite of their's to read. Stick Man has his origins as the Gruffalo's Child's only friend, he gets fully characterised in this and has quite a tough old time until he meets the most famous Christmas character of all. Stick Man has such a tough time that I gave him a Tony Hancock voice when reading it. I just can't believe they haven't made a film of it yet, this is ideal Christmas Day viewing.

Janet & Allan Ahlberg's Peepo! is over 30 years old, I assume the Ahlbergs wrote it as a nostalgic book, as the pictures look more 1940s/50s than 1980s. It is charming and sweet and Linus loves it. I like the rhythm of the rhyme for reading it. This is a library copy and we've only read it a couple of times so I'm not iver familar. It is a great book for the last before sleep slot. The other one we have by the Ahlbergs is Each Peach Pear Plum, which I've read earlier in this blog and don't doubt I'll get to again. The illustrations in their books lend well to spotting things that aren't in the story. Allan Ahlberg must be one of the most prolific children's writers of the last 30+ years. His more recent works such as The Pencil and Previously have been well received when we've had them out of the library. There's a lot more in them and originality often brought to old themes.

Finally, as a bonus, I mentioned at the beginning that Stanley Unwin would have been a good teller of Cuckooville. Well he did do some story telling, here he is with Goldiloppers and The Three Bearloders. For those who don't know, Unwin was speech therapist for King George VI.

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