Mixed children’s books – spot the theme

Posted on 4 August 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I’ve been making my way through those children’s books I mentioned in a previous post. It’s been fun.

I started with Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams and found it totally different to my memory. Gobbolino is born a witch’s cat but wants to be a kitchen cat. He is left behind by his mum and has to find his own way in the world. He goes through many different situations before finally having his ability to do spells taken away from him and finding a position as a kitchen cat. It’s a lovely little book and one suitable for readers getting into slightly more advanced chapters. Gobbolino is really sweet and tries really hard to fit into every situation he finds himself in, sometimes he tries too hard and that causes him to be thrown out, other times it’s his ability to do spells and captivate people that gives him trouble, he doesn’t always know when to stay silent. It is a really sweet story and would be a good learning tool to help teach a child to fit into and make the best of every situation.

I then moved onto Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh. I seriously enjoyed this book. It is for older readers. The chapters are longer and the writing style is aimed at an older age group. In this book the people can only hear the cat talk if they are holding the broomstick, something I found more believable than Gobbolino whom everybody could hear speak. In fact, so much more believable I looked around the other day to find the broom to talk to my Mum’s cat. I only did it once and only briefly until I realised what I was doing. Carbonel is a royal cat who has been enslaved by a witch. The only way he can be made free is by being bought by the right person and then that person finding all the right things and undoing the spell. That is exactly what Rosemary does. She is a lovely, thoughtful child who generally does as she’s told and looks after the house nicely when her mother has to work. In the course of finding all the ingredients of the spell Rosemary makes friends and helps people out. There is a happy ending here as well for all involved but I won’t tell you as that way you won’t read the book. I couldn’t help comparing what Rosemary is allowed to do with what a child of 10 is allowed to do today. The book starts at the very beginning of the school holidays and Rosemary’s mother gets a job sewing for Mrs Pendlebury Parker and has to travel to her house everyday. Rosemary is then left on her own in their flat for the entire day. I know when my kids were that age I wouldn’t leave them alone for more than an hour or two at that age. I also know that people have been in trouble for leaving their kids home alone for that length of time. It’s an interesting point. Rosemary was also expected to cook, clean and allowed to travel around town by foot and public transport by herself, all at the age of 10. At that age I was only just trusting my kids to walk by themselves and starting to take public transport occasionally. The travelling is similar and I know many other kids who’d be expected to take themselves around town solo at that age, but the cooking and cleaning is another matter entirely. I’ll just finish with a ‘this is a fabulous book and I highly recommend it anyone’.

This book is currently for sale on the Suz’s Space website.

Just when you thought you had the theme I picked up Woof! by Allan Ahlberg. Eric is a 10 year old boy, fairly normal in every respect. He goes to school, has friends, is thinking about being interested in girls, gets into trouble…all the regular things a boy does. The only thing that isn’t regular is that one night he turns into a dog. After he enjoys it and eventually turns back into a boy he tries to tell his mother but doesn’t quite manage it, so instead he tells his best friend, Roy. Between them they try to figure out why it’s happening and somehow deal with it when it does happen. This book is a barrel of laughs, I really enjoyed it and laughed out loud on several occasions. The writing style and chapter length indicate it’s probably in between Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat and Carbonel. Eric was not able to talk as a dog so that fitted in with real life where animals generally are not able to speak as their mouths are the wrong shape and their vocal cords are the wrong shape among other things. The interaction between the boys and their friends as well as their acquaintances was just fabulous, the way they thought, they way they acted, all just seemed right. I know I have girls, but I have watched boys so I do have some idea and the boys just acted like boys. Really lovely.

The last book is The Mouse on the Moon by Rosemary Sage. This gorgeous little book is one in a series published by Little Owl Story Rhymes. The illustrations are delightful and the verses are a great segue between Dr Seuss and ‘adult’ poetry. The story is about a mouse called Marvin who visits Professor Potts the inventor and uses his books and gadgets to fly to the moon. While there he meets the Mouseking and is invited to a feast where he finds that the moon really is made of green cheese. Following this feast he has a speedy introduction to the Mooncats before he flys quickly away and lands in his own bed. This book is really sweet. It has nice bright illustrations which can be used by the parent (or older reader) to help the young reader understand the story if they don’t have the vocabulary at first. There are only one or two stanzas per page so there’s little distraction. All in all a very delightful little book.

All of these books will be available on the website despite my eldest’s protests that she just has to read them. I’m sure you’ve spotted the theme. I might try and make the next one a little harder. There will be more books to come, I’m in the middle of a science fiction one and it’s very exciting.

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