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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Strictly Gerald

December 20 2014

Giles Andreae has written an array of books. Some are wonderful, some not so. According to Wikipedia, he was a schoolboy chum of David Cameron. Being called Giles is a requirement of entry to Eton so it may be accurate. It is irrelevant though. His stories are often funny, warm and inspiring.

Giraffes Can't Dance is a modern classic, first published in 1999, it should be a required book for every toddler. There are elements in it that effect all children at some point and throughout life. Lack of self confidence, mockery, self esteem and perseverance are addressed. Gerald the giraffe overcomes his bandy leggedness to dance above the expectations of his peers. I do wonder if giraffes can technically have peers who aren't giraffes or very tall trees, but I digress. We have recently seen an adaptation of this by the Halle Orchestra (which was excellent) and it has also been a stage show.

Linus loves the rhyming story and Guy Parker-Rees' pleasing illustrations. It almost has a feel of a very compact Disney movie. There's obviously an element of Dumbo, Gerald even has a cricket as an adviser.

The Little Lost Duckling is a bit like a colour by numbers picture book, it feels very manufactured. I'd guess some book publishers need to issue so many books a year, they have writers and illustrators on hand, give them a brief and they pop out a book. There's actually nothing wrong with Sue Barraclough's story, it's quite sweet, there's just nothing exceptional about it, or even anything lifting it above average. Simon Mendez's illustrations are similar to the writing, they're quite pleasant. There is a nice message for kids not straying too far from their parent. Unfortunately this book never strays far from any reader's expectations.

We only read Quentin Blake's Angelica Sprocket's Pockets a few nights ago but we enjoyed it, so I returned to it. I think this is the first of the Quentin Blake picture books I've read to Linus. Blake illustrated Roald Dahl's books that I grew up reading. His universe is extensive, Angelica Sprocket must surely be a cousin of Willy Wonka. Being familiar with his universe should give Linus a link to some of the older books he's illustrated, both for Dahl and more recently for David Walliams.

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