Or “Not a Julia Donaldson book, even though it looks a bit like one”.
No this is the other half of the creators of the Gruffalo all on his own. Axel Scheffler’s illustrations are instantly recognisable and I’m convinced that we wouldn’t love the Gruffalo half so much if he hadn’t made him both curmudgeonly and loveable at the same time. But I think for the most part they are recognisable as being part of a Julia Donaldson book and when this little gem was unwrapped on Christmas Day that’s exactly what I thought it was. But I should know my aunt better; she has a wonderful knack for finding books for the children that we don’t already own, no doubt born of years of finding new stories for her own four grandchildren.
This little board book is exactly what is says on the cover; it’s two rhyming stories, the tales of Katie the Kitten and Lizzy the Lamb. They’re sweet stories, telling out the everyday life of a kitten that likes to snuggle up in the laundry basket and a lamb that loves jumping in the springy grass. And on paper I know that makes them seem very basic, possibly to the point of being a bit boring, but I promise that’s not the case,and it’s not the case that the illustrations carry it either. It’s the combination of words and pictures together that make me love it, and for Elma and Pip I think they pick it up so often because they can so easily relate to the stories.
We love stories of magic and mystery, with imagination stretched just short of breaking point, adhering to the childhood mantra that anything is possible if you think it is, but at the same time I think there is something very comforting to my littlest ones in tales that they recognise. They see our neighbours’ cats and imagine which one might be Katie (all except the ginger one that Kitty christened “Guide Cat” for some reason vaguely connected to Guide Dogs that I never quite understood) and soon there will be lambs in the field above the village boinging along as we drive past and one of them is sure to be Lizzy chasing the bunnies who live on the roundabout. Maybe if we stop and peek through the hedge on one of our walks we might see her.
And if you missed it last week the lovely Hannah at Make Do & Push has been reading a few stories to prepare Miss Busby for the arrival of her new baby brother, all three look brilliant, especially the sticker book. My girls would have loved the sticker book. If there’s ever a next time I’m buying one for each of them!
What We’re Reading is a weekly link up of posts about children’s books. That’s about as far as the ‘rules’ go; it can be picture books, baby books, books for older children or even young adult if you like; just come and join us to tell us what you’ve been reading recently. The linky is always open for a week so there’s plenty of time to join in, or if you’d rather join in on Instagram or Twitter that would be wonderful too, just use the hashtag #whatweread and tag me (@cariemay on Instagram and @cariemaymakes on Twitter) and then we can all come and say hi.