Archive for May, 2012

Theodore Boone: Half The Man, Twice The Lawyer

John Grisham

A perfect murder
A faceless witness
A lone courtroom champion knows the whole truth . . . and he’s only thirteen years old
Meet Theodore Boone
In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk—and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom.
But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much—maybe too much—he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth.
The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served…

I have enjoyed many of John Grisham’s books and was interested to see how his writing would translate into a children’s book. I wasn’t disappointed.

As the blurb indicates Theo is a 13 year old who loves the law. His parents are both lawyers and he has learnt loads about the American judicial system and law. At school other students come to him for advice when they, or someone they know, are in trouble. Theo always seems to have the answer!

Theo is a likeable character, and despite his unusual amount of knowledge he has a normal life. He knows where he fits in the scheme of things (not in the popular league) and has ups and downs that all children do; homework, parents and so on. Then he finds himself in a situation where he does not have the answer and he’s promised not to tell! This can be a huge dilemma for any child, let alone when the information can prove ‘whodunit’ in a murder trial and that trial has already started.

This is still very recognisably Grisham. The writing is pacey and keeps you hooked as gradually more and more is revealed. Even though you know from about half way through the book who committed the crime there is still a bit of tension (not as much as the adult books, but I don’t think that you would expect that). It is interesting watching Theo deal with his moral dilemma about what to do, he can’t break his word, but he can’t let a criminal walk free. Also Grisham manages to explain how the court works and the ins and outs of the laws that cause part of the problem without being boring or patronising. There is much in there that a young reader might not know and they will be hugely educated about how the courts work (or at least the American ones) by the end of the story.

Verdict: A great starter for getting children into court room drama!

Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 2011(2nd ed.)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Genre: Crime Fiction
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: My Name Is Mina


David Almond

There’s an empty notebook lying on the table in the moonlight. It’s been there for an age. I keep on saying that I’ll write a journal. So I’ll start right here, right now. I open the book and write the very first words: My name is Mina and I love the night. Then what shall I write? I can’t just write that this happened then this happened then this happened to boring infinitum. I’ll let my journal grow just like the mind does, just like a tree or a beast does, just like life does. Why should a book tell a tale in a dull straight line?
And so Mina writes and writes in her notebook, and here is her journal, Mina’s life in Mina’s own words: her stories and dreams, experiences and thoughts, her scribblings and nonsense, poems and songs. Her vivid account of her vivid life.
Mina is different. Not like other children her age. She tries to do as she is told in school but she can never quite manage it. The other children know she is different and mostly stay away. But Mina likes it like that, at least that is what she tells herself. Homeschooled and isolated, Mina starts a journal. One that talks of school, life and word. Lots of words. It also talks of a family who move in down the road and their son, a boy called Michael.

This is the prequel to ‘Skellig’. A book that I have yet to read, I almost read the book before I read ‘My Name is Mina’ but in the end decided not to, a decision I’m still not sure about. I do know something about the storyline in ‘Skellig’ and am now very much looking forward to reading. I have a strange feeling I may return to ‘My Name is Mina’ to reread when I have finished it.

I was told my another school librarian that this was perhaps a book about a child, but would be enjoyed more by adults. Whilst I do see her point I would be inclined to disagree. It isn’t for any child, I think it would take a more mature child to read and enjoy this, but they would get so much from it that it would be worth that bit more concentration we would need. Through Almond’s words we are transported into this world of a child who doesn’t quite fit. A child who sees the world in a very different way to the rest of us. Any child/ teenager will no doubt relate to parts of Mina’s personality and may well come away with a greater understanding of other facets of her personality. As an adult working in education I found it fascinating. I liked and admired Mina and hated the idea of her being ‘caged’ by the educational establishment, but at the same time understood how frustrating for the establishment to deal with Mina. A child who isn’t doing as she is asked because she wants to be difficult, or because she is lazy, but because she sees the world in such a different way that she doesn’t know how to do as she is asked. I hope that it will change the way I deal with young people, as I firmly believe that there is a little piece of Mina in all of us.

The journal format of the book, and parts of the way it is written meant that I sometimes found it difficult to follow. I had to go back and check which timeframe I was in sometimes, or even just read ahead and hope that it would eventually become clear. But this is part of the magic of the book, the darting around between time and subjects is part of what really helps you understand who Mina really is, someone who is different, not bad, not wrong, just different.

Verdict: Compelling reading for both children and adults who will come away having learnt a lot, maybe even about themselves.
Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Booksl
Publication Date: September 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Genre: Growing up, Issues
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: Slog’s Dad

Author: David Almond and Dave McKean (illustrator)

Do you believe there’s life after death? Slog does. He reckons that the scruffy bloke sitting outside the pork shop is his dad come back to visit him for one last time- just like he’d said he would, just before he died. Slog’s mate Davie isn’t convinced. But how does this man know everything Slog’s dad would know? Because Slog says it really is his dad, that’s how.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Visually it is superb, the style very similar to ‘The Savage’, another Almond and McKean collaboration and I book that I adored. I love that some pictures look almost photographic until you look at the faces. I love the mainly green undertones that make the other colours stand out all the more. For once I also like that the pictures stand alone, with the story they tell told in an almost storyboard fashion. It is through these pictures that you see Slog’s pain at the death of his Dad, his hopes and dreams that one day he will return. This is made all the more poignant by the fact that the actual story is told by Davie, Slog’s best friend. The story told in words, is slightly more detached, it’s the pictures that give you an emotional context to the book.

It’s the story I have mixed feelings about. I think I understand the intention, but I found certain element quite creepy. This man looks nothing like Slog’s Dad and parts of Davie’s story seem to imply he is just indeed a random man. I think that the intention is just to show how someone can do something nice for a grieving small boy. That they can give them the comfort of knowing that there is something better out there. But I found the notion that someone could pretend in that way quite disturbing. This is a book set around 50 years ago however so maybe I placing my own more modern conception of mistrust unfairly in this case.

This shouldn’t take away from the fact that this is a very moving story that speaks very eloquently of love and loss.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: September 2010
Format: Hardback
Pages: 64
Genre: Graphic Novel, Death
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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Dark Inside

Jeyn Roberts

Moments after several huge earthquakes shake every continent on Earth, something strange starts happening to some people. Michael can only watch in horror as an incidence of road rage so extreme it ends in two deaths unfolds before his eyes; Clementine finds herself being hunted through the small town she has lived in all her life, by people she has known all her life; and Mason is attacked with a baseball bat by a random stranger. An inner rage has been released and some people cannot fight it. For those who can, life becomes an ongoing battle to survive – at any cost! Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen – now it’s our turn!

It started like any other day, but then the earthquakes came and people began to change. Four teens watch those around them transformed into ‘Baggers’. Humans who hunt down other humans and kill them. Humans who hunt down the weak and enjoy it, who drag families from their homes. The world has changed beyond recognition and it takes everything you have just to survive.

This book was really scary. It’s not often I find a book really chilling, but at one point I actually had to stop reading as I was in the house on my own and it was scaring me too much. It’s a book that examines the darker side of human nature. The idea that everybody has a dark side, just in the ‘Dark Inside’ this dark side is amplified to a greater extreme. It’s the books and films that do this that I do tend to find scary.

I loved that this was set during the ‘Apocalypse’, so many books are set afterwards this days. Though this is great for showing governmental control, setting the book during really adds to the tension, creating that feeling of chaos and panic, a feeling you find very real whilst reading this book. It makes the reader examine what they would do in the same situation as the characters.

The story is told from multiple points of view. Four teenagers who come from different parts of the United States and Canada. This works really well, it shows how different areas, farm villages to big cities, cope with the disaster. It also shows how different people cope, how some band together and how some isolate themselves. It also gives the reader access to a greater range of supporting characters. I also loved that they didn’t meet up until the end of the book, this means that as a reader we already have a sense of who they are as characters in their own right, leaving any group dynamic to ‘The Rage Within’. Which incidentally I can’t wait to read.

I’ve had a lot of teenagers coming in to my library and asking for ‘scary books’ lately. I think that I may have to buy some more copies of this as it will definitely be my new go to book for those after books in the horror genre.

Verdict: Tense, chilling and genuinely scary. A book that examines the darker side of nature that you won’t want to put down.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: MacMillan Children’s Books
Publication Date: September 2011
Format: Hardback
Pages: 368
Genre: Apocalyptic, Horror, Dystopian
Age: YA
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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Unravelling

Elizabeth Norris

STOP THE COUNTDOWN. SAVE THE WORLD…
Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.
And killed.
Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…
Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.
That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process…

Balancing a complicated home life, with a summer job she excels at and a budding romance with the hottest boy at school, Janelle is a busy but ordinary teen girl, until the evening she is hit by a truck and dies.

As she lies dying in the road, images of her life flash before her, only these images are not Janelle’s memories, they are the observations of another. Aware of hands upon her broken body, Janelle experiences an overwhelming heat fusing her broken bones and forcing life in to her still heart. Coming to, she finds herself looking in to the eyes of Ben Michael, a mysterious boy, she has known for most of her life, but never spoken to. Struggling to come to terms with her experiences of resurrection Janelle is drawn to Ben, determined to discover all that she can about him, his powers and the circumstances surrounding her accident.

While reading a book or watching a movie, I take great delight forming theories alongside the protagonist and I pride myself on my ability to predict the plots twists and turns – however, this book completely threw me. With no knowledge of the books genre, I started reading the book with certain expectations and theories to the origin of Ben’s powers and found that the story took a completely different turn to the one I was anticipating. This certainly kept me on my toes and turning the pages.

Initially the book focuses on Janelle’s accident, her struggle to find meaning in her survival and her growing friendship with Ben. This relationship is allowed to develop at a seemingly leisurely pace, however a Countdown clock heads each chapter from the very first, so although the story progresses with the impression of all of the time in the world as a reader you are on edge knowing that the countdown to something significant has began and that our protagonist is unaware. As the story evolves and the event we are counting down too is revealed, the chapters become shorter adding to the increased pace of the story.

On the whole I enjoyed this book but I did have a few niggles which made it difficult for me to suspend my disbelief and become completely absorbed in the story. While I understand Janelle’s rationale for not sharing the information she uncovers, the predominant one being her family history of mental illness. I just could not understand how the FBI allowed her to take the liberties she did while undertaking her own investigation. The family connection just wasn’t a strong enough reason for me and I felt that it should have been harder for Janelle to snoop at the classified information she accessed.

On two occasions when providing the reader with additional information crucial to the plot the author told us about conversations which had taken place rather than showing them to us. While telling rather than showing is a common complaint amongst book reviewers, I’m usually impassive about it. However in this instance the approach was so different from the rest of the book that I found the experience jarring and it pulled me out of the plot. Despite these niggles I would be very happy to read a sequel and I will be looking out for Norris’ future works.

Verdict: Unexpected twists and turns kept me turning the page.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Publication Date: June 2012
Format: ARC
Pages: 416
Genre: Sci-Fi, Apocalypse
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut Author
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Author Interview: Jeyn Roberts


With it’s new, vibrant, red jacket Dark Inside is all dressed up and ready to celebrate it’s UK paperback release!

Moments after several huge earthquakes shake every continent on Earth, something strange starts happening to people. Michael can only watch in horror as an incidence of road rage so extreme it ends in two deaths unfolds before his eyes; Clementine finds herself being hunted through the small town she has lived in all her life, by people she has known since childhood; and Mason is attacked with a baseball bat by a random stranger. An inner rage has been released and some people cannot fight it. For those who can, life becomes an ongoing battle to survive – at any cost

Please give a warm welcome to author Jeyn Roberts who has very kindly taken the time to answer my questions about this chilling apocalyptic series.

Post Apocalypse books are so popular at the moment, but most concentrate on life afterwards. What made you decide to write about an apocalypse actually happening?
I think it goes back to the books I loved as a teenager. I remember reading The Stand and loving the first part a lot more than the second. I never liked books that start in the middle. I’ve always been more interested in how the destruction begins. The nice thing about doing a trilogy is that I get to do the beginning, middle and end.

I found ‘Dark Inside’ really chilling, in fact it’s the only book other than those written by Dean Koontz that has actually scared me. Did you set out to make the book quite so scary?
I love hearing stuff like this. I’m so glad I scared you. Haha I can’t say that I really thought that much about it to be honest. All I can say is that I really enjoy scary. I love horror. So I guess it’s natural that I’d end up writing about it.

I’m not normally a fan of books written from a multiple point of view but I found its use really effective in the book. What made you decide to write ‘Dark Inside’ in this way? 
When I started writing, I realized quickly that there was going to be more than one story. The problem with a single POV is that you only get one side. With Dark Inside, I felt it would be more powerful to see the way different people would react. I can’t imagine that everyone would behave the same way during such a crisis. I’m not even sure how I’d cope.

Dark Inside began to look at how everyone has a dark side, and the darker side of human nature overall. Is this something that will be explored in future books of the series?
Absolutely. There’s a lot more of that in Rage Within. Now that all the characters are together, I’ve been able to get more into character development. I’ve really tried to focus on different types of dark human nature. There’s Mason’s deep fear that he’s dangerous to his friends and then there’s Aries’ discovery that making mistakes can really lead you down a dark path. Personally I think we all have a dark side. Some of us are just better equipped to deal with it than others.

Do you think ‘Dark Inside’ fits with any kind of genre? 
That’s a tough one. I’ve always thought it fits simply into horror. I’ve heard post-apocalyptic horror and that works too. It also does fall under the dystopian category—depending on which definition you use.

What was your inspiration for the book?
Dark Inside came out of a series of dreams I used to have when I was a teenager. I still have them every now and then. I would dream that I was living in this isolated world where there is a great underlying evil. Often I would be trapped in dilapidated buildings with a group of survivors. Some of the scenes in Dark Inside are actual real dreams.

Why did you decide to write books for teens? 
I like writing for teens. I love how passionate they are about the things they love and hate! I find teens way more interesting than most adult characters. Funny enough, I started out writing adult literary but that never kept my attention long enough. With YA, I feel like I have a lot more freedom.

Do you have a favourite character in ‘Dark Inside’? 
I’d say that Mason is my favourite character but he’s also the one that drives me crazy. He’s so emo! But at the same time, he’s always the one character I seem to understand the most. Not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

Jeyn Roberts

Dark Inside is available to buy in paperback from today. The second instalment in the Dark Inside Trilogy,Rage Within is due for release at the end of August. Both are published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

Post by Alison

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This Rabbit Belongs To Emily Brown

Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton (illustrator)

Emily Brown’s rabbit, Stanley, is NOT FOR SALE.
Not even to her Most Royal Highness Queen Gloriana the Third.
Not even for all the toys Emily Brown could ever desire.
So when naughty Queen Gloriana steals “Bunnywunny” away, Emily Brown sets out to get him back. Along the way, she shows the queen how to love a special toy of her very own.

We borrowed this book and it was so worth a read. Although it can be enjoyed by younger ones I think this is definitely a picture book best suited to an older pre-schooler, or those in their first year or so at school. There is a fair bit of text for a picture book and some of the ideas and groups of people mentioned are well over the heads of younger readers (or should I say listeners!).

Emily has a much loved rabbit called Stanley, a great starting point for a story as most children have favourite toys of some sort. She and Stanley have lots of exciting adventures and this leads to a bit of a problem. Queen Gloriana the third decides she would like the rabbit for herself. She writes to ask Emily to give her Stanley (or bunnywunny as she prefers to call him) and in exchange she offers Emily a brand new bear. Emily however, is having none of it and stands up to the Queen saying a very firm “no”. The Queen tries to bribe Emily with further offers and sends in increasingly strong forces to back her cause. Finally the SAS come and steal Stanley away. Emily is furious and heads off to the palace to fetch him back.

Emily teaches the Queen that to have a special toy you must love it and play with it until it is truly yours. It’s brilliant. I loved Emily, she is so un-phased by anything, and like many children, when it comes to her toy she will stop at nothing to protect what is hers! But far from being a story about “mine” in the selfish sense (a word we hear a lot in our house at the moment!) it is a story about love, loyalty and the joy of special toys. Emily is not willing to give up Stanley, even for the multitude of things she is offered in return. She demonstrates that some people (or toys) cannot be bought at any price. She is also courageous enough to go to rescue her beloved toy and stand up to the Queen!

There are some great lessons in this story, but it is also a great read, has lots of humour and has charming pictures.

Verdict: Fab, I am sorely tempted to go and get this, even though I am trying not to buy more books at the moment… This one might just sneak itself onto the shelf!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Orchard
Publication Date: October 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Picture books, Early Readers
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: Midnight Zoo

Sonya Hartnett

World War II, Eastern Europe: Tomas and his younger brother, Andrej, have fled their Romany encampment which has been besieged by the Germans; they carry Wilma, their baby sister, in a sack. In an abandoned, bombed-out town, the children discover a zoo. In it are a wolf and an eagle, a monkey, bear, lioness, seal, chamois and llama. The animals tell their stories to the children as they try to begin to understand what has become of their lives and, when they try to figure out a way to release the animals, what it means to be free.

Tomas and Andrej are brothers. Hiding in the forest they watched the Romany camp they live in be pulled apart and dragged off by Nazi soldiers. They carry with them their baby sister Wilma. They are lost and confused not understanding the world that they live in. Then they come across a zoo on the outskirts of a destroyed village, but this isn’t any old zoo, in this zoo the animals can talk.

I really struggled with this book. Had it not been on the Carnegie shortlist I’m not sure I would have finished it. It took me three weeks to read, an incredibly long time for me, especially as at 192 pages this is a really short book. I’m not sure why I struggled so much. This is a beautifully written, thought provoking book, from a distance I can tell that it is incredibly well written. That, however, I think may be the problem, I view this book from a distance. All through the book I felt emotionally detached; I didn’t ‘feel’ the storyline or the characters. I kept waiting for it to suddenly click, but it never did. It shouldn’t be a problem with the writing, this is a book that has been crafted rather than written so I’m assuming it’s the subject matter. I am not an animal lover so maybe it is that. I also found the idea of two young boys, at the ages of 10 and 12, looking after a baby fairly unbelievable. But then this may well appeal to the intended audience and after all this is a book where animals can talk so is based it a world out of the realms of the ordinary anyway.

The story does have a magical, almost dreamlike quality and this is highlighted by the very simple but beautiful illustrations. The copy that I read was in hardback (another thing I usually dislike!) but I can’t imagine how this would translate to a paperback. I’m assuming the publishers feel the same given the time lapse between the publication of the hardback and now. Visually this is a stunningly striking book.

Verdict: Beautifully written and visually stunning. A magical, dreamlike story that I just didn’t quite connect with emotionally.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: November 2010
Format: Hardback
Pages: 192
Genre: War
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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Pandemonium

Lauren Oliver

Love, the deadliest of all deadly things.
It kills you when you have it.
And when you don’t.
I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

This is the second book in Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series. There will be no spoilers for this book, but there may be for the first.

In America in the future the Government have found a cure for love. Everybody must go though the procedure that removes the capacity for love around the age of 18. Those who refuse are considered terrorists and locked up, children are kept separated so that they can’t succumb to the disease before they are cured. Lena grew up believing that this was right, that love was a terrible thing that damaged society, but that changed. Now she finds herself on the other side, a runaway, an invalid, she now lives in the wild with others who don’t believe in the governments cure. But life here is a constant struggle for survival and among these people lie the Resistance, those prepared to try and change the regime. No matter what the cost…

Pandemonium is a very different book to Delirium. The book talks of two different timelines in alternating chapters titled ‘Now’ and ‘Then’, with both strands told from Lena’s perspective. This technique really succeeds in ramping up the tension as you become engrossed in one aspect of the story only to be thrown into another. It’s also very successful in drip feeding the reader with essential information until the two threads are pulled together at the end and everything makes sense. The main character, Lena, is almost unrecognisable from the Lena we Knew in ‘Delirium’ in the ‘Now’ sections. The ‘Then’ sections fill in the gaps in her character development but make the reader see how she got there in a totally believable way.

Lauren Oliver’s exquisite writing shines all the way through, just as it did in Delirium, even with the change in how the book is put together. Incredibly descriptive it takes on an almost lyrical quality at times. I honestly think I could read anything written by her, whether I was interested in the subject matter or not.

Pandemonium very definitely fits with the Dystopian Genre. Although the Government does not play as big a role this time round it is still a dominant theme. It also looks at how any side will do whatever it takes to further their cause. But to me it is mainly a book of self discovery with the romantic elements of the first book taking more of a back seat.

As for the ending, wow! I was kind of expecting (hoping) for something along those lines, but I was not expecting it to be quite so brutal. I think Lauren Oliver must go down as the Queen of the cliffhanger ending.

Verdict: An incredibly beautifully written story of self discovery set against a dystopian backdrop. With an ending that leaves you desperate to find out what will happen next.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: March 2012
Format: eBook
Pages: 336/515KB
Genre: Dystopian
Age: YA
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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The Enormous Crocodile

Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake (illustrator)

The Enormous Crocodile is incredibly hungry-and incredibly greedy. His favorite meal is a plump, juicy little child, and he intends to gobble up as many of them as he can! But when the other animals in the jungle join together to put an end to his nasty schemes, the Enormous Crocodile learns a lesson he won’t soon forget. Dahl’s wicked humor is as delightful as ever in this new, larger edition of a hilarious favourite.

Now in my early 30’s, trying to remember what books were read to the class at the age of 7 years old is quite a stretch, except for this one. I think it’s fair to say that the whole class was captivated and then the weeks of fun afterwards trying to scare each other by pointing out where this monstrous croc was probably hiding; in the playground, classroom etc. This was my first experience of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake and I have been chomping at the bit to share this wonderful author and illustrator combo with my own children.

The ‘Enormous Crocodile’ is perfect for my soon to be primary school age child. It’s just the right size to be considered a proper storybook but still just short enough that you can finish reading the book with your child in one sitting. The illustrations, even in this 2008 edition is still in Quentin Blake’s witty and captivating style and quite rightly so, dominate each page. As it’s a much loved book of mine, its also one of the few books that I can genuinely say that I don’t mind reading again and again.

Of course that’s all very good but does this story still captivate children 25+ yrs later?

You betcha. I remember the first time I read this to my daughter. I knew I had her entranced at the very first page when the enormous crocodile talks about eating ‘a nice juicy, little child’. She stopped me reading to make sure she had heard right. To try and balance out all the princesses and fairies paraphernalia I do make sure that we read ‘non- fluffy’ text but I can’t recall many children’s books where the main protagonist is the ‘monster’ who doesn’t try or isn’t forced to redeem himself in anyway.

It was then a pleasure to explore each page where the cunning croc annoys the local animals and then his ingenious plans, pretending to be various objects to get close enough to the children to munch, are always thwarted at the last minute by the other animals. Then there is the rather unusual but delightful ending where the nasty croc gets his comeuppance!

Verdict- A nostalgic delight that’s timeless in it’s appeal to children and a great introduction to the delights of Roald Dahl.

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: March 2003
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book, humour
Age: Early readers
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British Book
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