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Melrose and Croc: Beside the Sea - Emma Chichester Clark

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Genre: Junior Books / Author: Emma Chichester Clark / Edition: Pap/Com / Paperback / Reading Level: Ages 4-8 / 32 Pages / Book is published 2009-06-25 by HarperCollins

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      27.06.2011 23:13
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      A gentle story, that will not inspire you, but may enchant you a little

      My children picked this book to read from the school library because it has an appealing picture on the front cover featuring the 2 characters in the title. They are familiar with beaches as we have had a few beach holidays, and I think this one appealed as they selected it after a recent trip, and it shows the, on a beach on a bright sunny day eating ice creams. What child wouldn't find that appealing?

      Melrose is a large yellow dog, and his friend Croc is a little green crocodile. This is the 4th book in the series featuring these characters, and was written and illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark, who has been writing childrens fiction since 1988.

      This was our first experience with these characters, so we were not sure what to expect, and it was nice to see simple sentences on each page in large font size, with full page illustrations to accompany the text.

      In the book, Croc is feeling grumpy and won't speak to Melrose. Melrose tries to cheer him up by getting some items out of a box and trying to get Croc to guess what they are without looking. My children liked this as they could see the items being described, and at no point did it say in the story what the item was, so they would shout out what they could see. I like this technique as it will help them become better at describing items by their appearance.

      First Melrose chucks a towel over Croc. He then throws a ball at him. He then puts a bucket on his head like a hat. Croc is still really grumpy, but Melrose asks him to think about where they could go with all these items.

      Croc is then very excited and plays similar tricks on Melrose such as pulling his tail and putting wet seaweed on his nose. Melrose gets fed up and chucks Croc into the sea, and then they have a lovely ice cream together.

      As a story, my first read through I wasn't overly impressed, but reading it a few more times it did grow on me. The humour in it is very silly and it appeals a lot to my boys when we read it. There is not a lot of text on each page as it is mostly filled with lovely illustrations, and this is what made the average story good for us. In each page we found lots of things that we could talk about, and this is what helps my children to understand better.

      The relationship between Melrose and Croc is less like that of friends and more like that of brothers in my opinion. They tease each other and wind each other up, but they have fun together and know how far to take it. Melrose was very caring at the start when he tried to bring Croc out of his grump. My boys can relate to this as they both sometimes can be grumpy. They both are also at the age where they are starting to try and tell jokes that really aren't that funny, and also playing little tricks.

      While it is more subtle than some other books aimed at children, there is certainly plenty to discuss with a small child, and it has helped us talk about our own previous experiences at the seaside and what we would like to do in our next visit. I wouldn't say it would be a favourite, but it has a certain charm to it that would make you read it from time to time.

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