Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Lil' Merl and the Dastardly Dragon by Liam Barrett (Flying Eye Books)

Lil' Merl and the Dastardly Dragon

Written and Illustrated by
Liam Barrett

Published by Flying Eye Books

Purely on the strength of the amount of time Charlotte has spent with this book this week, "Lil' Merl and the Dastardly Dragon" is an absolute bloomin' marvel. Over the course of a weekend away (travelling to visit Charlotte's new baby cousin, all of a week old, bless her) we needed a book that would keep Charlotte busy and engaged for those times when we were kicking our heels in a hotel, or when "Grown Ups" were waffling on about baby things.

Liam Barrett's fantastic activity book was perfect. But first, let's introduce Lil' Merl. He's a wizard who learns of a dastardly dragon, fiery of breath and destructive, who has razed a local castle.

Merl decides that the only thing to do is to take on the dragon, summoning all his magic powers and enlisting the help of his elf friends.

Through a series of kid-friendly puzzles, colouring, dot to dot and activities, you can help Merl on his quest - meeting nefarious goblins and creatures along the way before confronting the dragon himself.

I'm sure other book bloggers go through a similar quandary to us - but when you've got a book that is as gorgeous as this, it takes a real strength of will to let your little ones go to town on it with their pencils and crayons. Liam's illustrations are stylish, colourful and fun, and the puzzles are gauged at exactly the right age for Charlotte (6 and up) so parents won't need to intervene too much.

As with all Flying Eye's books, it's beautifully designed and presented - and the core theme of dragons, wizards and magic has a fairly wide appeal. We did wonder where the girls were though (Well there was a witch, I guess).

Note that the lack of girls does NOT detract from the book in any way, Charlotte loved the characters regardless of Merl being a little boy rather than a girl, just thought I'd better point that out!

Charlotte's best bit: Picking the hardest challenge in the book - a really cool code breaking section where you have to decipher a letter in code, and then work out the combination of the lock on a cage. Tough but she nailed it!

Daddy's Favourite bit: This book has absolutely captured Charlotte's attention and imagination. It takes a bit of moxy to let your child draw in (deface) such a lovely book, and the price might feel a bit steep to some folk - but it's worth it for the days of activity and engagement that it gives.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Flying Eye Books)