I am quite unashamedly repeating an author illustrator combination this week, but not without good cause.
The Worst Princess was our first of Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie’s books but it was never going to be our last.
It was a bitterly cold, damp and misty day last winter, and we needed to get out of the house before the mischievous cabin fever pixies really took hold, so we went to the bookshop for a little potter, a little browse, and to absorb a little of the nice calming aura that comes with being surrounded by books (I think it’s something in the binding glue).
It worked a treat. Tiny newborn Elma snoozed, I found a new book on French cooking and Kitty, continuing the culinary theme, chose Rhinos Don’t Eat Pancakes.
in a funny sort of a way it’s rather a milestone book for us. For starters it was one of her earliest picture books that simply told a story, without also being a rhyme. When she was really tiny I rapidly discovered that there’s a reason baby books are in rhyme; the patter holds their attention long before the words really make any sort of sense, and then gradually the story becomes more and more engaging, and the rhythm is just the icing on the top, and not the fundamental draw. She had non-rhyming books, but they were never the ones she pulled off the shelf and brought to story time, they’d be the ones we chose, and sometimes the ones we didn’t quite finish as a wrigglish little someone slipped away to go and play. But this was one of the ones (along with Stuck) where she stayed firmly snuggled up right through to the last page, and then flipped it back to the beginning with a happy “again!”
But more than that, this is the book that we bought around about the time that Kitty’s language really took off, and so it’s the first book that she could comprehendably ‘read’ back to us. We read it every bed time and every story time for weeks so it’s no surprise that she committed it to memory. I’d come back downstairs from changing Elma to find Kitty sat with ‘Rhino doh ee pancake’ on her lap, turning the pages and reciting as her fingers traced over the pictures.
I so wish I’d videoed her doing it, it was just so cute. Mainly because while it wasn’t a perfect word for word recitation, she’d skip the occasional consonant or definitive article, the intonation was a perfect copy. It wouldn’t be the same now, those lovely words came thick and fast and she can repeat what’s written without much bother, but perhaps I should try to catch a little story telling before it all changes again.
Even without all that sentimentality, this is a fabulous book. Daisy is sitting in her kitchen one morning when in strolls a big purple rhino. He grabs a bite of Daisy’s pancake and settles in to family life while Daisy’s parents remain completely oblivious, no matter how many times Daisy tries to tell them about the new arrival.
Of course in the end all is revealed, and in one of those beautiful logical but utterly fantastical moments the family all push Rhino into the car, drive him to the airport and put him on a flight back to “a million miles away” and his family. And Daisy and her parents start to spend a little more time together, even if it appears that she may just have become the first stop on the underground railroad out of the zoo if the fleeting glimpse of the pink polar bear is anything to go by.
We’ve got one more Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie book on our shelves (and I’m saving it for another week because it’s also lovely) but these three are their only collaborations so far (and I really hope it is ‘so far’) but both have new books either just released or about to come out (including one with Shark in the Dark’s author Peter Bently) that will almost certainly be on Kitty’s Christmas list.
Do go and say hi to Lucy and Kelle and see what they’ve been reading, and if you’ve seen something you think we all ought to be reading, please let us know!