Happy Hector: A Tilly and Friends Book by Polly Dunbar is one of those slightly special children's books that it's nice to give as a present.
The plot is adorable. It tells of a young girly, Tilly, and her friends, one of whom is the pig Hector. Hector starts off the story happily sitting on Tilly's lap, but when the other animals want to join in too, Hector finds himself squashed and having to compete for Tilly's attention. He runs off, very sad, and cries, but fortunately Tilly and the others soon make him feel better again.
This is a lovely, simple tale that I think would appeal to 1-3 year olds, and has some good basic lessons about sharing. It may also help young children to realise that their parents have enough love for both them and their siblings, and so may be useful for dealing with any kids who are feeling a bit jealous.
The words are few and far between and are in large type, so slightly older children may be able to read this themselves. The words also change in size and sometimes become bold to change the emphasis which is nice, and may also help children to learn to recognise the larger, simpler words.
The book itself is an approximately A4-sized hardback with around 35 thick, slightly glossy pages. These have pale ivory backgrounds on which are printed gorgeous, simple illustrations which I found really charming (the last picture is so cute!).
All in all this is a lovely book, but there are a couple of drawbacks. Firstly the matte cream cover is liable to get dirty very quickly - I can't even pick it up with clean hands without leaving marks so it doesn't stand much chance with a chocolatey-fingered toddler! It would be better if it had a glossy cover.
Secondly, £9.99 is far too high a price for this. Even Amazon.co.uk's current price of £5.99 is excessive.
SO, TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY?
If you can pick this up for 3 or 4 quid I'd recommend it as a very sweet present that will probably charm children and adults. But if you pay full price, you may find yourself disappointed with the small amount of content.
(updated and revised from my review on amazon.co.uk)