27 January 2010

Books, books and more books!

The lovely people over at Random House sent me a couple of children's books to review this week, which was very kind of them. Both are picture books, so me and the girl settled down at bedtime to have a read.

First up was Little Croc's Purse by Lizzie Finlay. Sadly, this one was a huge disappointment.

Little Croc finds a purse filled with money, and has to decide whether to do the right thing and hand it in at the police station, or spend spend spend on lemonades and some rather natty new cowboy boots. Not surprisingly, he does indeed give the purse to the police crocs, the owner is traced in a mysterious manner, and Little Croc is rewarded for his honesty.

The pictures are great (the design of the purse really stands out), and there's some lovely in-jokes for the grown-ups (the cafe is called Croc Monsieurs, for example) but the story is awful and preachy. I know, I know, we should be teaching children that honesty is the best policy - but can we at least have some decent dialogue/plot?

Having said all that, M loved it, and wanted it read again. It's one of those annoying books that children like but make you want to scream. I'd recommend borrowing it from the library, and then getting someone else to read it to them.

Our second book was Box of Tricks by Katie Cleminson. And it *was* completely magic - one of those breathtakingly simple books that you could look at for hours.

Eva is given a box of tricks for her birthday, and becomes a magician (complete with rather fantastic cape). She conjures up a pet (Monty the polar bear - who is rather larger than she thought), rabbits out of hats, and a fabulous party complete with cakes and magicians. Eventually, when everyone's worn out, she clicks her fingers and they all disappear. Or do they?

We both loved the beautiful ink illustrations. And fell about laughing at the bit where Monty appears, and where the rabbits are playing cards and pulling more rabbits out of hats. It's completely charming - especially the dancing rabbits.

And what else is so nice, is that it's a book about a girl who isn't sparkly and pink and faffing about with fairies. The colours in this book are gorgeous, strong reds and blues - and Eva's a pretty strong, imaginative character. It's great - thoroughly recommended. We can't wait for her next one.

Now we're back to George's Marvellous Medicine (you can't beat a good bit of Roald Dahl), except that I'm not allowed to read it because "Daddy does the voices better". That's my dreams of reading Book at Bedtime dashed, then.

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