Monday, 4 August 2014

The Scarecrow's Wedding by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Alison Green Books / Scholastic)

The Scarecrow's Wedding

Written by Julia Donaldson

Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Published by Alison Green Books

Surely there's no mightier team working in children's picture books than Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler? A new book by this dynamic duo is always a huge cause for celebration, doubly so when a wedding is involved. You have an exclusive invitation to the wedding of Betty O'Barley and Harry O'Hay but first there's lots of preparation to be done.

A wedding dress is required of course, made of the finest goose feathers. Bright sparkly rings are also needed - and also flowers, lots of pink flowers.

Harry O'Hay sets off to pick up the last item on the wedding list, and that's when disaster strikes. Enter to many boos and hisses one Reginald Rake, a foul usurper, a thoroughly rotten cad who steps in and flirts outrageously with poor Betty O'Barley while her fiancee is off on his slow and painstaking quest (never, ever ask a snail for help if you want anything doing in a hurry!)

Reginald Rake is suave, sophisticated, fiendishly charming and can even drive a tractor (or a Gruffactor - bit of a forced bit of fan service there but C loved that little cameo!)

Reginald Rake also smokes hideous cigars but the smoke is too much for him, and he drops the foul thing right at Betty's feet!

(As an aside, it was a bit of a shocker to see a character smoking in a children's book but the whole plot would unravel like a poorly woven loom-band if it wasn't there so we'll have to let it slide!)

As flames leap up in the tinder-dry field, Betty is in mortal danger! Can Harry O'Hay possibly save the day?

As ever, Julia Donaldson's use of rhyme and repetition make this a sing-song of a book to read aloud. Axel Scheffler's sublime artwork is beautiful, colourful and the utterly perfect accompaniment to Julia's writing. The story is charming, perilous and exciting - in fact the book is so highly polished you're almost blinded by its dazzle.

Every bit as good as you'd expect it to be, plus a little bit more! It's not book of the week material for us (I think we'd rather like to have seen Reginald Rake be a bit more fiendish and dastardly - oh and get his comeuppance too!) but your younger readers are going to absolutely love it to pieces!

Charlotte's best bit: Going for a scary ride on the Gruffactor

Daddy's Favourite bit: Buffed to the highest sheen by two of the most talented folk working in children's books today. Absolutely guaranteed to wow your little ones.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Alison Green Books / Scholastic)