I absolutely could really write a very clever and ever so funny story

Posted: April 19, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

If you know me you might be surprised to hear I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently, especially following my confession on QMs blog that I’ve only read 2 of Daily Telegraph’s recommended ‘110 books: The Perfect Library’. However you’ll not be so surprised when I explain that all the books I’ve been reading have been for young children, in particular for my toddler son.

There is no doubt there are some great books for kids out there and I have listed my top recommendations below, but the more I’ve read the more I’ve thought, ‘How hard can it be to write a children’s book?’. I mean I think I my vocabulary would stretch to the task and the stories are so often so simple. Yet some of the simplest stories are often the ones that my son loves the best. For example he has a book called, ‘The tiger who came to tea’ by Judith Kerr. My wife (who knows about these things) tells me it is a children’s classic. Basically the story is about a little girl and her mum having some afternoon tea when a (talking) tiger happens to call at their door saying he’s hungry. Foolishly the little girl lets him in and he proceeds to eat all the food in the house including drinking all of the water and ‘all Daddy’s beer’ but surprisingly (and disappointingly) not the little girl or her mother. The tiger then clears off just before Dad comes home wondering why his dinner isn’t ready. After the very plausible explanation that a tiger has eaten all their food, he calmly suggests they go out for dinner!

In ‘Owl Babies’ by Martin Waddell, the ‘story’ revolves around 3 baby owls who wake up in their nest to find their mother has gone to find food. They decide to go and stand on a branch to wait for her. At this point I’m expecting some drama like one of them falls off the branch and gets eaten by a fox but instead they basically chat amongst themselves and then their mum comes back. The end.

Surely most of us could come up with something like that. And yet as I’ve said, my son loves these simple stories. Of course often what makes these books are the illustrations. So if you’re a reasonable illustrator let me know and maybe we could make some money together. I’ve got an idea for a series of books about a squirrel who enjoys the outdoors. With intriguing titles like, ‘Sammy Squirrel goes to the shops to stock up on nuts’, ‘Sammy Squirrel goes climbing without a rope, ‘Sammy Squirrel runs the marathon in under 4 hours’ and ‘Sammy Squirrel loses his nuts in a boating accident’ we can’t fail.

So whilst you’re waiting for these classics to be published why don’t you check out my top 10 books for young children:

1. Charlie and Lola series by Lauren Child. These books are actually genius. I particularly like ‘I will not ever never eat a tomato’ especially as it comes in a pop-up version.

2. Captain duck by Jez Alborough. Fix it duck is also very good. I think it’s all the more impressive when good stories rhyme.

3. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler. Well illustrated, clever story. All their books including The Smartest Giant in Town are worth a read.

4. How to catch a star by Oliver Jeffers. A real piece of art created by a fellow Ulsterman who says of himself, ‘At an early age Oliver developed an appreciation of five-letter words and his loves include plastic food, wheels, suitcase handles, Elvis and, despite not having met one yet, polar bears’

5. Shark in the park by Nick Sharratt. Simple but well done.

6. The Higgledy Piggledy Pigs by Sally Crabtree.

7. The Selfish Crocodile by Faustin Charles and Michael Terry.

8. The Large Family series by Jill Murphy. I had to get elephants in somewhere!

9. Enzo the racing car (Wheelyworld) by Diane and Christyan fox. A sure hit with boys.

10. And finally a book which was one of my favourites when I was a young child. We still have my original copy which I’ve protected by writing on the inside cover, ‘Do not tuosch touch’: Albert Herbert Hawkins (the naughtiest boy in the world) and the space rocket by Frank Dickens. (I love it even more after pasting in the link to buy it on amazon and finding they’re selling it for £129 second hand! And it only cost 75p in 1978. I think I will now enforce my ‘Do not tuosch touch’ command) And I’m open to offers…

  1. K loves ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’ as well. My mum has a read-along CD with the book that she insists on putting on herself everytime she goes to Holywood.

    I can’t draw for s**t, but I bet I could come up with some good ideas too. My first idea involves a lovable imp called Timmy-Wimmy who finds even the most simple of tasks (like paying a bill before the final demand) hilariously difficult…

  2. espero says:

    We’re huge fans of Julia Donaldson and Axel Schelffer’s books. For our money “The Snail and the Whale is their best.
    We noticed a few notable classics you might want to add to your bedtime repertoire….
    1. Each Peach Pear Plum and anything else by Alan Ahlberg. When Luke is a bit older he will LOVE ‘The Jolly Pocket Postman’.
    2. Maisy – how could you leave out Maisy?
    3.Again, in a year or so, Shirley Hughes’ Alfie books are wonderful and fondly remembered form my own childhood.
    4. Likewise, where would we be without Dr Seuss? His rhyming ways have infected our son. (Leading to the now notorious “What rhymes with kitchen? I know! Bitchin’ !’ episode.

  3. Dr Seuss is great (although a bit creepy?). Who’s Maisy?! I will investigate.

    I also left out Thomas & friends which are also great with a little moral with each episode.

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