Last weekend I hit the ripe old age of forty (I'm sure I'm supposed to be upset about this or start having a midlife crisis, aren't I ?! Naahh !!) so I was intrigued to see that Quentin Blake - probably best known as the illustrator of Roald Dahl's classic children's books - will turn 80 this year. To mark this milestone, Random House have reissued some of his earliest picture books and Pierre was very happy to receive a set for review.
First up was Jack and Nancy, a magical tale of people (called Jack and Nancy, funnily enough !) who live a happy enough but slightly boring life in their cottage by the sea. They listen enviously to the sailors telling their tales of adventures in distant climes until, one very windy day, they are blown away with their umbrella to an exotic island. They end up discovering that the grass may indeed be greener on the other side but ultimately there's no place like home. The story itself isn't particularly original but the quirky illustrations really bring it to life and take it to another level.
Next we looked at Quentin Blake's ABC which, again, has lovely illustrations to accompany the texts that are full of details and can lead to some rather imaginative discussions about what you think is going on in the pictures. "P is for Parcel - let's guess what's inside" was our particular favourite but pretty much all of the drawings have characters in them with strange expressions on their faces so you can have fun imagining what they are saying or thinking.
And the final book was Quentin Blake's Nursery Rhyme Book. Although the Madhouse Mini-Testers knew some of them, this made me realise that there are many classic nursery rhymes that they weren't familiar with which is a shame, so this has been a great way of keeping this particular childhood tradition alive. They weren't quite so taken with the rhymes themselves, unsure of why some of them are a load of old nonsense and don't really mean anything - with hindsight, I wonder if the fact that they are bilingual made them wonder if they just weren't understanding them - but once again, the funny illustrations led to lots of giggles and comments.
Sophie recognised the drawing style from Roald Dahl so, even if she was out of the target audience range, she enjoyed looking at them too. Both 7-year-old Juliette and 3-year-old Pierre loved listening to the rhymes and pointing out things in the pictures.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £5.99 each
Disclosure : We received a trio of Quention Blake books in order to write an honest review.
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