Tuesday 25 March 2014

Foxy Tales - The Cunning Plan by Caryl Hart and Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children's Books)

Foxy Tales - The Cunning Plan

Written by Caryl Hart

Illustrated by Alex T. Smith

Published by Hodder Children's Books

"So Daddy, is Foxy a baddie?"

Oof! This is how our reading of "Foxy Tales" began, and underlined our animated reading of this fabulous new book series from two uber-talented children's book folk. Caryl Hart and Alex T. Smith have teamed up to create a mischievous duo par excellence, and this is their first (foxy) tale (Look out for "Foxy Tales: The Road to Fame and Fortune" coming really soon!)

So is Foxy a baddie? We chose to see her as a poor unfortunate lass who is a little down on her luck and is relying on her verve and cunning to get by in life. Things would probably go swimmingly if it wasn't for one huge green-scaly problem - a huge green scaly alligator-shaped problem.

Alphonso the Alligator has latched onto Foxy and if there's one thing that can really complicate life, even when you're as smart as a fox, it's having a blinkin' great big hungry Alligator in tow whose life revolves completely around filling his rotund belly as quickly (and as often) as possible. Poor Foxy (and heck, we have to have a bit of sympathy for her even if she's really a bit of a bad egg) has completely run out of credit at Toni Ravioli's East Street Diner, and Alphonso is hungry! Worse than that, Alligators will eat anything - even foxy sidekicks - so Foxy Dubois needs to come up with a plan, and fast!

This superb book was something we took a little time with, reading it over the space of a few bedtimes. Charlotte is good and ready for meatier chapter-based fare with great illustrations, so she really enjoyed Caryl's fast-paced storytelling punctuated by Alex's fab drawings (she's already a huge fan of Alex and still keeps talking about being slightly star-struck when she met him!)

Anyway, back to the plan. Foxy comes up with a stunner, so stunning and cunning you could brush your teeth with it. Foxy aims to kidnap a local heiress's dogs, fake a rescue, and then bring the dogs back to her for a rich reward.

On paper it's a sound plan, in practice, once again having a great big galumping Alligator helping out really isn't the brightest move. But can Foxy somehow succeed and end up well on the road to fortune and glory? Or will she be taking up permanent residence at No.1 Alligator Tummy Lane.

We'll leave you to discover the answer yourself. We had a lot of discussions about the merits of a children's book character who is actually a bit of a stinker, but think that Foxy Dubois is here to stay, and maybe - just maybe, her completely crazy hair-brained schemes might one day bear fruit (and she might get rid of that pesky alligator as well - or at least end up with a fantastic fashionable pair of Alligator-skin shoes!) There are so many laugh-out loud moments for young and old (we cackled like drains at the book's warning about the distressing scenes featuring cute dogs in cute coats - So true!)

A really rollickingly good start to a new book series that's absolutely bound to become a huge hit. Foxy and Alphonse, destined for greatness!

Charlotte's best bit: The most terrifying sight, a full grown fat-bellied alligator dressed up as a sweet old auntie. Eeks!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Oh dear. Alphonso's "Escape Cloud" - Silent, but deadly!

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