Novelty Fiction

There are Cats in this Book
by Viviane Schwarz
(Walker Books)
There are cats in this book announces the artist/narrator on the cover and that’s where the story starts, continuing on the front endpaper and immediately engaging readers or listeners, putting them in control of taking the story forward and determining the pace. The cats themselves then introduce themselves and take over the authorial voice as they involve the audience in their antics with balls of wool, cardboard boxes (with lids to open), pillows and a fish tank. The last one almost ends in disaster, so the reader has to rescue the cats, dry them and tuck them up under a cosy blanket, before their final, irresistible invitation to come and play with us really soon!.
This is one of those books that sets you searching for children to share it with (not to mention those adults who hopefully will be the co-orchestrators of the endless hours of fun and frolics). Not just for the under 6s – this would be a good choice for older children with special needs.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Accidentally on Purpose
by Kes Gray & Nick Sharratt
(Red Fox )
Fans of Daisy will delight in this latest offering – a split-page spirally bound book that starts with the divergent thinking heroine about to plonk her knickers ‘in the laundry basket’: but that’s only one of the possibilities. Alternatives (revealed by turning the bottom half of the page) include ‘on her jacket potato’, ‘in mum’s tea’ or ‘behind the sofa’. Then what will be the fate of the crunchy cream biscuit, chocolate sauce, worm or squirt of suntan cream? These are just some of the items Daisy is shown clutching as the top half of the page is turned.
All ninety potential misdemeanours are amusingly illustrated in Nick Sharratt’s favoured dayglo colours. The brief text comprises two halves of a question, each contained within a coloured, boxed arrow caption. Endless of hours of fun and a smashing novelty book with a wide age appeal.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Cinderella: The Fairy Tale Files
by Alan Durant, illustrated by Ross Collins
(Walker Books)
This hilarious version of the traditional story is written as if it was a case file compiled by Rumple Stiltskin, private investigator, working on behalf of Cinderella’s future in laws. His report is accompanied by plenty of evidence which is enclosed in envelopes within the book, including a birth certificate, drawings of feet, a shopping list, a wish contract and an invitation to the ball. The final envelope contains a wedding card from the Fairy Godmother that opens out like a flower.
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Dear Tooth Fairy
by Alan Durant and Vanessa Cabban
(Walker Books)
When Holly’s tooth falls out, she doesn’t want to part with it so she
puts some plastic vampire fangs under her pillow instead. In the morning,
the plastic teeth are still there but they’ve been joined by a tiny envelope.
So starts a regular correspondence with the tooth fairy which finally
persuades Holly to part with the real thing. There are real envelopes
on the pages for readers to open and take out the fairy messages inside.
These are written written in tiny writing – Holly uses a magnifying glass
at one point in the story and children may enjoy doing the same. The whole
effect is delightful, particularly for girls who’ll be attracted by the
pink and gold cover.
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Dear Zoo
by Rod Campbell
(Puffin)
The zoo are keen to help a child who asks for a pet and send him
a succession of crates. Each one is a flap to lift which reveals
a highly unsuitable animal until finally one arrives with a pet
that’s just right. There’s also a more elaborate version with pop-ups behind the flaps. For 0-5
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The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle
(Puffin)
This very simple story takes a caterpillar from being an egg to being
a butterfly and, in order to grow so much, he has to eat a great deal.
Pages of different sizes and holes for small fingers to explore add
extra interest to a story which is just right for the very young.
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The Jolly Postman
by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
(Viking Children’s Books)
This classic picture book builds on children’s love of receiving
letters. The rhyming text tells how the Jolly Postman delivers the
post to characters well known from nursery rhymes and fairy tales
while some of the pages are envelopes which contain the actual letters.
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