Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten by Bob Graham (Walker Books)

When a new family moves into a house next door to a huge sprawling rambling and overgrown wreck of a place, it's not long before the neighbourhood kids tell young Rose the story of Mr Wintergarten, the creepy old guy that lives there.

He is mean, he's nasty, he will never give you your ball back if it goes over his (very high and very unwelcoming) garden fence. He has a massive dog that eats children and he lives in the dark eating bugs and grubs. Ew!

It doesn't take long before Rose's little brother has his ball taken by a mean kid, and kicked over the fence so Rose (along with her mum) bravely decides to knock on Mr Wintergarten's door...

This is a tale that feels very familiar (a bit like The Selfish Giant) yet it's told in a rather nice and cosy way, with a positive message about how young people interact with their elderly neighbours and relatives. We won't spoil the end but this is actually a very happy book despite the slightly menacing looking image on the cover.

Bob Graham's delightful illustrative style is brilliant, lending the book a classy air and Rose (the very brave little girl) was a character Charlotte could easily identify with and like straight away.

Charlotte's best bit: The very last frame in the book which is rather joyous and celebratory. She also loved Mr Wintergarten's dog (which doesn't actually eat kids after all!)

Daddy's favourite bit: Again, loved the last frame and the message that runs throughout the book. Treasure your elders, they won't be around for ever and they always have the very best stories to tell.

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