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I had a lovely surprise when I opened my sons reading packet from school to discover that he had been to the library and actually got a different book instead of the same Postman Pat one he usually brings home. This book is a large hard back and has a good bright front cover.
The cover is mainly green and has a picture of a lion standing in leaves on it, the title is at the top. The back cover is also green and has a short paragraph about the book and at the bottom is a picture of leaves with the lions tail sticking out.
The story is about finding out how loud a lion is, each of the double pages features different animals and we learn how loud they are and what noises they make. The end of each page ends with the same sentence asking how loud a lion is and saying Shhh! Listen! Before we turn to the next one. I am happy to report that at the end of the story we do get to the lion!
The story is very basic but it is still appealing as it features lots of different animals and we get to learn about them all. The pages are all colourful and very detailed. One thing I have noticed about the illustrations is that all of the animals and objects in the pictures are made from fabric and we even get to see the stitch marks on them. I think this is a great different way illustrating and I can almost imagine the feel of the different types of fabrics used. The animals all resemble what they should so children will easily be able to spot the animals. I like the details given as this gives us lots to talk about and I can also ask my boys to find things in the pictures which also extends the time we share on the book together.
The text is a good size and is always in black ink so it is very easy to see. There are only a few words on the pages and these are all quite basic so my 8 year old can read this book with ease. My 6 year old, who bought the book home, does try very hard and once we had read it a few times he only needs to look at the pictures to see which animals it is to be able to read the words.
As I said there are only a few words on each of the pages so if you only read the book then it will take just a few minutes, you can make this longer like we do by discussing the pictures and getting your children to act like the animals and make the noises which are described, doing this makes the book last longer and it is very funny at times.
The book is a good size which means small children will enjoy sitting and looking at it. The pages though are only made of paper so smaller children may have problems turning them individually by themselves, there is also the risk of them being ripped. The book is a hard back and the retail price is a massive £9.99. I certainly would not pay this price and I have looked on Amazon where the book can now be bought for just £5.39 brand new. I think this is a much more suitable price for the book. It has been written by Clare Beaton and published by Barefoot Books. This book is one which is aimed for the younger market, I would say for children between 3-6.
I will be very happy if we get this book for another few weeks from the school library as it has bought some very entertaining moments to my house. I am happy to give it a good 4 stars. I have dropped one as the pages will pose a problem for small hands to turn and they can easily get ripped. A good fun read which can be made to suit any length of reading time.
Although this book is credited to Clare Beaton on the front of the book, she is only responsible for the illustrations and it is actually Stella Blackstone who has provided the story to go with the pictures.
Some of you might be familiar with this partnership already, through one of my other reviews for a book called Secret Seahorse where you had to find a little bit of the hiding seahorse on each page.
The story starts by describing how a couple of different animals feel to the touch.
Parrots are feathery, porcupines are prickly,
But how loud is a lion? Shhh! Listen!
Each page is formatted the same way with a couple of animals being compared and then the question of how loud the lion is. Included in the list of animals are the spotty cheetah, the happy hoopoes, the crafty crocodiles and the hefty rhinos.
Looking through the book you can see little bits of the lion are hidden on each page. There might just be a tail, part or his mane or his paws at the edge of the page to find.
Right at the end of the book we are suddenly shown a single word on a page, written in very large capital letters,
On the next page we can see the lion and written beside him in very small letters is the word,
Im not really surprised that the illustrator gets credited with this book as she has done a magnificent job. As with Secret Seahorse, the pictures are made up from collages of felt, buttons, beads and wool stitching. It is all very intricate and clever. The colours of the fabrics used are bright and often its only when you look closely that you can pick out how each creature is made up.
I am really impressed by this slightly different style of book. My son really enjoyed Secret Seahorse and with this in mind he was instantly attracted to this school library book. As soon as he handed it to me, he said that it was like the seahorse book and that he couldnt wait to read it. This is probably due to the fact that he loves anything to do with Lion King at the moment and roaring like a lion is something he does on a regular basis whilst playing at home with his friends. He certainly loves to roar with the lion at the end of the book.
I love the way the illustrations are made up in this clever book. The intricate stitching and delicately placed sequins and beading obviously require a lot of work but the result is amazing. You almost expect to feel the different textures of the fabrics on the page and it does in fact look a bit like a touch and feel book.
Finding things in books is a great way to get your childs observations skills motivated. The lion often just has a small tail showing so your child has to be careful to spot it. The part of the lion showing changes places on each turning page too, which also encourages children to use their eyes more.
The way the animals are compared in this book is very good too. Not only are differences in their appearances pointed out, but their demeanour and behaviour is discussed too, pointing out how gentle the giraffes can be and how cheeky the chimps are. This is something that is often forgotten in this type of comparison book but I think its a great way of showing children that its not only looks that can be different but that everyone has a different personality too.
There are a lot of similar sounds at the start of words in this book too and I found this a great help at the moment as I am working with my son at the moment with sounding out letters and asking him to find words that start with the same letter.
An added bonus with this book is that the animals arent all the usual ones you tend to find in childrens books. We can see that there are hoopoes and zorillas and this will obviously get your child asking what type of animal they are. For those of you who dont know, a hoopoe is an exotically stripey bird and a zorilla is a type of weasel that looks a bit like a skunk. Both can be found in Africa, as can all the other animals in this book, which leads me on to another discussion point that you can have with your child when discussing where different animals live.
This really is a great book between the unusual illustrations and the clever comparisons. Im sure any pre-schooler will love it along with some slightly older children too.
***Price & Availability***
The hardback is available for £9.99 but can be found at WH Smith for only £6.59. The paperback version that we have is a little bit more difficult to get your hands on but I have found it to buy new for the publishing price of £4.99 from a company called www.smartieparties.co.uk. You can also pick up second hand copies from sites such as Amazon marketplace and Ebay.
Hardback ISBN No. 184148895X
Paperback ISBN No. 1841489034