Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Wake up do, Lydia Lou! By Julia Donaldson and Karen George (Macmillan Children's Books)

We sometimes wonder whether Julia Donaldson gets fed up with being inextricably linked to The Gruffalo. Fine book though it is, seeing "By the author of The Gruffalo" on everything Julia does can sometimes grate.

For instance here's a new book by Julia and Karen George, who previously collaborated on "Freddie and the Fairy", a book that is absolutely wonderful in its own right - with no need to be linked to that purple-prickled orange-eyed monster.

in "Wake up Do, Lydia Lou!" we are treated to a tour-de-force of rhyming perfection. Julia Donaldson is an absolute legend - no not because of you-know-who, but because she absolutely understands what it feels like to read books aloud, and makes it fun to do so. Whereas we find a lot of rhyming books clumsily clobbering your sense of rhythm (something that Elli Woollard perfectly described in a #ReadItMD13 piece for us back when poetry and rhyming text was our theme for the week), Julia always manages to develop a 'flow' that whispers through her books like a welcome breeze.

Lydia Lou is fast asleep, and a mischievous ghost wants to wake her up and give her a bit of a spook. But despite the naughty ghost's best efforts, Lydia Lou is soundly in the land of nod and no amount of rattling, woohing or other noises can interrupt her snoozing.

We've seen Julia Donaldson use this method of repetition before in her stories. Repeating the same lines over and over again to build to a climax - which you'll either love or hate. I personally like the approach because it builds anticipation, perhaps even tension - and each time the ghost fails to rouse Lydia Lou you wonder what's going to happen next with each turn of the page.

Special mention to Karen George for her illustrations too - it must be tough being paired with Julia, because it's probably one of those occasions where folk pay more attention to the author's work than the artist's - but here Karen produces wonderful characters (including the world's cheekiest looking teddy bear - just look at his expressions, the little devil!)

Great fun to read aloud. Younger kids might need a bit of a cuddle and reassurance at the theme (yes it's not that scary, but in the current heatwave when you've got the windows thrown open in your child's room, it's worth an extra hug or two to assure them that a noisy naughty ghost won't be floating through THEIR window) but it's an ace book and the first of two JD reviews coming up today.

Charlotte's best bit: That cheeky, cheeky teddy. He looks like he deserves his own book!

Daddy's favourite bit: Julia Donaldson's rhymes are brilliant, her sense of building a story to a tense finale is natural and enjoyable.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Macmillan Children's Books)