The lovely people at Random House sent us Three by the Sea last week. It's the latest picture book by Mini Grey, one of our favourite children's authors. I can recite Biscuit Bear word for word, but never tire of reading it as the illustrations are so funny. (And any book that ends in a cake shop will always have pride of place on our bookshelves).
So we had high hopes for Three by the Sea. And we were right. It's another fabulous book, illustrated in the inimitable Mini Grey style (check out the brilliant book titles in Mouse's kitchen - it's her attention to detail that I love). What I also love is that the story is as good as the illustrations - so often you find that you're reading absolute drivel, even though the pictures are beautiful (Angelina Ballerina, take a bow...).
Anyway, back to the plot: three friends (a cat, a dog and a mouse) live in a house by the sea - until a mysterious stranger (a travelling salesman) shows up. He offers each of them a special free gift...but it turns their world upside-down. It's a tale of friendship, loyalty and making compromises - but without any of the schmalz that can often accompany themes like that. In fact, it's laugh-out-loud funny, both for adults and kids. M read it with me, laughed like a drain, and immediately demanded it again. And again. I can see I'll soon be able to recite this one too...
UPDATE: There's a lovely set of pictures on The Guardian website, with Mini Grey explaining how she creates her images: www.guardian.co.uk/books/gallery/2010/oct/01/mini-grey-gallery