Jan Pienkowski 'Gossip'
This was one of my daughter's favourite books when she was younger and I have kept it all this time, bringing it back from Australia with us too. My daughter is now over thirty and despite the fact that it was then passed to my son it still has most of the pop-ups in tact. I have made a few running repairs over the years but it is still a well loved book. I read it with my grandsons now eight and six and now my two year old granddaughter also asks for it.
Recently I reviewed 'Dinnertime' illustrated by the same person but that book was written by Anne Carter, this one is written by Jan Pienkowski himself and the story is better than 'Dinnertime in my view. I will be honest and admit that apart from the pop-ups and fabulous bright illustrations I really don't know what it is about these books that grabs young children. We have other lovely pop up books and they are cast aside in favour of this and other Jan Pienkowski books we have called 'Dinnertime' and 'Monsters'.
Jan Pienkowski has created a beautiful series of books for younger children on colours, faces , home and numbers to name a few and these are not pop-ups. His illustrations are clear, simple and brightly coloured. We did have this set too but sadly left them behind in Australia.
The story in this book is extremely simple. It starts with Cat saying, 'I thought I saw a saucer on the roof last night'... 'I must just tell my friend.......' You don't find out whom cat is going to tell until you turn the page. Cat is rather a fierce looking tabby with yellow eyes whose face protrudes from the page as you open the book.
On the next page we have a bird called a crossbill who is a blue splodge with a yellow beak that is crossed over and sticking out of the page. Cat tells crossbill who then elaborates on the story adding that there is a monster in the saucer and tells... Bulldog who is very solid and his face pops out fiercely with his bottom jaw protruding beyond his top jaw. He also adds a bit more to the story and now we have a monster with enormous sharp fangs.
Bulldog tells a nice fluffy yellow duck with a pop out beak which sadly has broken in ours despite constant mending by me. Duck adds a bit more to the story and now we have five webbed feet added to the monster. Duck can't wait to tell his friend hippo who is large and the pop up for him is lasting well with no damage despite the fact his large mouth and teeth do come out proud of the page with a big flourish.
Hippo adds his two cents worth and decides that the monster is going to eat them all up.
The last page is really cute as we meet the monster who is actually tiny and rather shy. I don't think I need worry about spoilers in this VERY simple children's story but the end is sweet and always brings a smile from the child being read to.
This is a far more interesting story and also allows parents or other adults sharing the story to talk about fibs and exaggeration when reading this book.
We also used to laugh at the fact that a duck would be chatting to a bulldog, even at a young age children are very aware that this is an unlikely, though certainly not impossible, thing to happen.
The story is repetitious which young children like. The pop- ups come out from the book and are sort of 3D as children can put their fingers in the mouths. The illustrations are lovely and great colours so I see the attraction to the pictures.
Jan Pienkowski is the artist and the 'story' in this one is also written by him and it shows as this is much more of a story that 'Dinnertime' which I reviewed previously.
There is an element of surprise as each page ends with 'I must just tell my friend .... 'and the animals name is found as you turn the page and at the same time the pop-up pop out in a very exciting way. I also open and shut the page which makes the mouth move and that always causes great mirth from whoever I am reading this to.
The paper engineering to make the pop-ups has been done by the same creators of 'Dinnertime', Marcin Stajewski and James Roger Dias but they only get a mention at the back of the book on the cover. My book was $3.95 in Australia over thirty years ago and was published by Collins. I see on Amazon prices for this book start at 93p plus P&P so it obviously was not as popular as 'Dinnertime' which has been republished a number of times. I think that about £3 or £4 is about the right price but you do always pay extra for pop- up books I suppose.
As I have said I can see the attraction of this book as the illustrations and the story are simple yet are quickly learned by children who like to 'read' the story themselves. It has certainly been popular with all our children and grandchildren. It was shared by mine with their friends and maybe the fact that they can re tell the story and make the mouths move is what makes it child friendly. The story is a vast improvement on 'Dinnertime but is still very simple but there is a sense of humour coming through with this story and once again the pictures are beautiful and the paper engineering very clever.
I have to give this five stars as it has proved to be so popular with all children that have seen it.Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.