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Certainly not to be missed
The Kiss That Missed - David Melling
Member Name: historywitch
The Kiss That Missed - David Melling
Advantages: Great funny/exciting story, wonderful illustrations, fantastic language
Disadvantages: Pffft, none
I bought this book a couple of months ago on the basis of a positive Dooyoo review (from Allybally) as part of my daughter's second birthday present. Having read it hundreds of thousands of times since (well it seems like it at least!), it is now my turn to write a positive review of this excellent book.
David Melling is a well-established children's book illustrator and has an impressive range of appealing looking children's books to his name (most of which are now on my Amazon wishlist). He has written three books about the amusing adventures of a knight and his horse; The Kiss That Missed, The Three Wishes and Good Knight Sleep Tight and I have my fingers tightly crossed that he writes some more, as they do the impossible- appeal to both my daughter and myself.
The busy king blows a goodnight kiss at his young son but it misses and flies out of the window. He orders his faithful but foolish knight to ride after it (it rather handily sparkles and leaves a golden trail behind it) and he wanders into the wild woods where he encounters a rather large green dragon, some scary bears and very hungry wolves. Will they escape the wild woods? Recapture the kiss and avoid being eaten?
Thankfully no-one gets hurt and it all ends well and it is a fantastic, toddler version of the scarier and more adventurous dragon/knights stories written for older children and adults. It is humourously told in the most marvellous language, certainly a cut above some of the dreary and repetitive books I have read to my daughter; forcing you to adopt a 'Jackanory' tone when reading it aloud! Starting with the not so traditional 'Once upon a Tuesday', the tone is set from the beginning and the (relatively limited) text is just the right combination of rhyme, repetition, humour and imaginative language not usually seen in children's books for this age group. My daughter loves it when the dragon's eyes 'leered greedily' at the knight and I love to overact when the knight shouts 'EEK!' or the dragon sneezes. It also has a wonderful ending that is just right for a bedtime book and puts my daughter in the mood for sleeping, now she requests a goodnight kiss and another 'kiss that missed' which I have to pretend to blow out of her window and call out to the knight to follow! I thought it was fantastic the way some of the more dramatic sentences continued over the page, keeping interest and prolonging some of the excitement and suspense even after the 1000th read. At the same time it treads just the right balance between scary and bland, as dribbly-jawed wolves and a dragon with greedy eyes might scare some young children if it weren't for the combination of the humourous language, softened illustrations and the amusing story which sees everything simply resolved by the missing kiss.
The excellent text is complemented by the smashing illustrations which are gentle and humourous, as well as being extremely well drawn. Each double page is laid out in a different style, from inset boxes to the double page being divided into three. The illustrations are extremely bright and colourful and offer a great deal to look at as you read the story. From the king in his shower cap and bright pink towel, to the knight with his split trousers mounting his horse backwards the pictures give parents something to chuckle at as well as appealing to the little ones. My favourite picture is a close up of the dragon's face that covers a double page with the text following the line of the nostrils; very cleverly done and super to read. There are little additional details everywhere that you might not notice in the first few reads, keeping the book fresh and making it even more interesting.
After reading this to my daughter a couple of times I added the others in this series to my Amazon wishlist and bought them as soon as I could. My daughter is a big fan of books and gets to choose four to be read before she goes to bed each night; not only does this book make it onto her chosen pile 5 nights out of 7 but its not one I ever try and talk her out of (like some others I might mention!). There is a lot of pap out there in the world of children's books and this simple, funny tale of a knight and a dragon really set the benchmark for me, against which I measure other children's books for my daughter. In many places the text and illustrations reminded me of old fashioned storybooks and medieval illustrations, so it is clear that Melling drew his inspiration from many different sources, something I was very excited to see. My husband likes it as it redresses some of the gender imbalance in children's books by making it the father's kiss that flies out of the window and has the power to tame all the scary creatures, something that combined with the humour would make it likely to appeal more to boys than a book about love and cuddles (Guess How Much I Love You has to be the marmite book of the parenting world, you either love it or loathe it-I am the latter!). The underlying message is very soppy and warm; the power of love and how it can tame even the wildest beasts but it isn't overemphasised or overstated, its just a corollary to a wonderful book about knights and dragons.
It seems strange to be so effusive about something essentially for a very young child, but this book for me truly is a gem and meets all the criteria for a truly outstanding children's book.
I would imagine a child of 2+ would enjoy this book, possibly up to 5 or 6 years old, so I am looking forward to lots more bedtime repetition!
***Price and ISBN***
RRP is £5.99
Amazon has it from £3.87 new and £1.31 used and there are four more complementary reviews on the site.
Summary: An outstanding childrens book