Posts Tagged ‘Shirley Hughes’

Up and Up

Shirley Hughes

up and upThe magical story of a little girl shoes wish to fly finally comes true, much to the alarm of the grown-ups.
A wordless story that is truly delightful – a triumph in true classic Shirley Hughes style.

When we borrowed this from the Nursery School Library my daughter (3 and a half) was most disconcerted when we got it home and realised there were no words in it. However once we began to look at it she was captivated by the enchanting drawings that tell the story.

A little girl watching birds longs to fly and when a magical egg gives her that chance she grabs it. Through the pictures we follow her on her exciting adventure, flying around the kitchen and then out into the garden and beyond to the street, over tree’s and away. The little girl is exhilarated by her new ability, her parents are a little concerned! They follow after her, as much as they can and are soon joined by a stream of people looking at the girl in the sky. She is keen to escape capture and leads them all a merry dance until, after evading nets and a hot air balloon, she finally comes down again having had an unforgettable time.

The lovely thing about this is that every time we tell it, it is a little different and every different person who tells it brings something fresh. The wealth of detail in the pictures encourages the use of more than a little imagination and it was particularly special to see my older daughter ‘reading’ this to my younger one and also the younger one’s pleasure in being able to tell us the story.

Verdict: This was a very popular book with my children and encouraged them to engage with a book in a different way. Brilliant!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Red Fox
Publication Date: September 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Children’s
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British book
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Dixie O’Day: In the Fast Lane

Shirley Hughes and Clara Vaulliamy (illustrator)
dixie O'dayIntroducing Dixie O’Day and also, of course, his friend Percy! This dashing duo are always getting into adventures – here they enter the All-Day Car Race little knowing what is ahead of them! Dixie and Percy run into all sorts of peril, as does their arch enemy, Lou Ella. But who will win, and will Lou Ella get her comeuppance?

It gives me great pleasure to introduce two dashing gentlemen, Dixy O’Day, the bow tie wearing, responsible car owner, and his best friend, co-driver, and all round good chap, Percy. These furry fella’s enjoy the simple things in life; Sunday motoring in the country, picnicing at the seaside and relaxing in the evening with a good cup of tea and their favourite biscuits. Not that they are adverse to a little excitement, which is handy as they do seem to get themselves in to tricky scrapes with alarming regularity!

While we still enjoy sharing our favourite picture books, my six-year-old daughter has started to request “grown up” chapter books for her pre bed reading. Although these books are written for early readers, with simple stories that appeal to her interests, I have found that the leap from picture book to chapter book to be a steep one. Particularly when I am reading an un-illustrated segment, I have noticed that my daughter’s concentration wanes mid chapter and without a visual reference and in the absence of descriptions she has trouble keeping track of the secondary characters.

From the very first page you know that you are getting something different. Dixie O’Day is a very British book about a pair of well-mannered British chaps. Beneath the excitement of the great Didsworth to Dodsworth car race there are some very gentle lessons about taking care of your possessions, consideration for others, manners and doing good deeds.

In a world full of apps, technology and extra digital content it was a delight to watch my daughter interacting with the book in a much more traditional way- exploring the included character interviews, games and maps – these added extras have pulled us back to the book as much as the story itself.

The chapters were the perfect length to maintain a fidgeting child’s attention, but long enough to that my daughter didn’t feel short changed at bedtime. The chapters each ended on a gripping cliff hanger and on more than one occasion I gave in (gleefully*) to my daughters pleas of just one more chapter.

In my experience the illustrations in similar books are usually black and white. While the illustrations in Dixie O’Day benefit from the edition of just red, pink and grey, the use of different retro prints add to the overall texture of the pictures and makes the overall book feel as if a much larger colour palate has been used.

I loved the retro 1940-1950’s styling. Everything from the illustrations themselves, the language use, even the compact size of the book, all nod to a past era. Although I was born long after the mimiced era, everything about the book made me feel nostalgic for my own childhood. Saturday mornings watching wacky races on the television, rummaging in charity shops for very British books about adventures, midnight feasts and lessons in morality.

Verdict: With it’s fast paced and exciting chapters and vibrant illustrations on every page Dixy O’Day is the perfect bridge between the chapter books my daughter craves and the picture books we already love.

* another step closer to creating a mini bibliophile

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Bodley Head
Publication Date: August 2013
Format: ARC
Pages: 128
Genre: Children’s, Humour
Age: Early reader
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Alfie Gets In First

Shirley Hughes

Alfie and his mum and baby sister, Annie Rose, arrive home after shopping. While his mum struggles with the pushchair outside, Alfie rushes inside and slams the door behind him. So now Alfie’s stuck INSIDE and his mum and Annie Rose are stuck OUTSIDE without a key! Soon everyone in the street is trying to help rescue Alfie – but he’s got a plan of his own…

If you would like a change from reading about dragons, aliens, princesses and other mythical beings and want to look at books that actually relate to real life then Shirley Hughes ‘Alfie’ books are just what you are looking for!

Alfie is a little boy of around 5 years old and there are a few books about the things that happen to him. We also love these, in particular the one where the pipe bursts whilst the baby sitter is looking after Alfie one evening and the rain inside the house! Anyway, in this story Alfie shuts himself inside the house, and what parent can’t relate to the panic that follows this event? Alfie too, goes through a whole spectrum of emotions as he realises what he has done and it’s consequences. Many people on the street come to help and there is a real community feel to the action.

It is all written with warmth and gentle humour, and I think Shirley Hughes is really good at showing the perspective of the child as well as the adult. This is complimented perfectly by the lovely illustrations, plenty of detail and colour, all obviously painstakingly hand drawn and coloured. In this story the pictures are even more clever, using the door in the middle of the double page and showing Mum, Annie Rose and the growing concern on one side of the door (one page) and Alfie, trying to work out what to do on the other (side and page!). This also means an eagle eyed observer can begin to guess what will happen a couple of pages before the text of the story reveals it to us. It is simple, yet wonderful stuff!

You can get this book as part of a set and I would totally recommend getting them all. We have just given a couple of sets as presents and in both cases the parents have made a point of letting me know how much their children ( 5 and 6 year olds) have loved them. They are also great for children who have begun to read for themselves.

Verdict: These will last you and your children for a number of years, read them!!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Red Fox
Publication Date: May 2009
Format: Paperback
Pages: 39
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Early Readers
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British Book
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