Friday, 22 May 2015

Overheard in the library

One boy to another

"Your face shouldn't have an opinion."

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A little makeover

As some of you will notice, I've made a few changes to the blog including title, web address and layout. Thought it was time for a change to reflect where I am now and how things are changing in my life and career. Hope you like it!

The First Hippo on the Moon (2*)

I had VERY high hopes for this book. My students adore David Walliams novels (Gangsta Granny, The Boy in the Dress ... ) so I thought I was on to a winner when I got this picture book. I really wish I'd read some of the other reviews before I purchased it as I probably would have steered clear. 

The illustrations by Tony Ross are great, but what's that old saying? Don't judge a book by its cover. I should have paid more attention to that. The illustrations are really the only thing that holds this book together. 

The story: 

Two hippos dream of going to the moon. One hippo, Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III is rich, and builds his own Hippo Space Centre, while the other, Sheila, has to make do with building hers from whatever material she and her friends can find. They both blast off to the moon but Sheila hits an asteriod and comes crashing down hitting the surface of the moon just before Hercules can set foot on it. They then argue about who is the first hippo on the moon. Sheila trudges off upset, nicks Hercules's rocket (by accident apparently), and crashes it because she doesn't know how to fly it. She hits the earth and lays motionless until she farts loudly and wakes herself up. She then celebrates with her friends that SHE was the first hippo on the moon, and never mentions that actually Hercules got there first. Hercules is left on the moon with no way to get home.

I mean, what?! Seriously. So Sheila leaves him there and then lies about being the first hippo on the moon. I know not every story should have a moral or a specific point but seriously what kind of message does any of this send! I applaud Sheila's determination to make her dream happen but that's pretty much the only good thing about the story. The rest is just awful.  

The two stars I give this book are for the illustrations alone. Without them it would be just completely awful. 

Le bureau des papas perdu (5*)

I'm very lucky that my library supports students of four languages because it means that I'm exposed to a plethora of great novels and picture books that I wouldn't necessarily see in English. Today a parent returned this book: 

Le bureau des papas perdu

The front cover caught my attention first and then having read the title I knew I had to read it. The illustrations are fun and quirky, and remind me a lot of the children's books I read as a child (ex. Babar, The Tiger who came to tea). My french is not the best but I thought I would give it a go. I was able to understand the majority of the book, and I sat chuckling at my desk much to the amusement of my colleague. It is just utterly delightful. 

I've tried my best to translate the blurb here to give you an idea of the story:

This morning, unintentionally, I lost my dad. Then I ran into the street and I met a man who said . . . . "I work in the office of lost dads" This is the beginning of a strange adventure for a little boy. But how will he find his dad in the midst of so many others? Dads in striped sweaters, who leave crumbs on their mustaches, one who dances rather well, ones who are courageous, and even prehistoric dads. A tender and poetic book that plays hide and seek with the reader.

"Ce matin, sans le faire exprès, j'ai perdu mon papa. Alors j'ai couru dans la rue. J'y ai rencontré un monsieur. Il m'a  dit : Justement, je travaille au bureau des papas perdus." Voilà le début d'une drôle d'aventure pour un petit garçon. Mais comment retrouver son papa au milieu de tant d'autres ? Des papas en pull rayé, des qui laissent des miettes sur leur moustache, des qui dansent plutôt bien, des courageux, des foufous et même des papas préhistoriques... Un album tendre et poétique qui joue à cache cache avec son lecteur.

(Apologies if I've not translated it properly!) 

Told with simple humour and gorgeous illustrations, it is just delightful. It's a wonderful reminder that stories don't have to be over the top or complicated to be good. Perfect for boys and girls of all ages.  

Available in English from November 30th 2015.