Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Emily Brown and the Thing (Re-Review) by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton (Hodder Children's Books)

Emily Brown and the Thing

Written by Cressida Cowell

illustrated by Neal Layton

Published by Hodder Children's Books

We (or rather I) did this book a bit of a disservice when we originally reviewed it all the way back in 2012. Scrappy artwork? Not always convincing? What on earth...! So with a timely reprint of this awesome story, it's time to give it another go!

Charlotte adores the Emily Brown books, and quite rightly argued with me as vociferously as a 4 year old could when we were originally reading this book back then. Of course, you should always listen to the opinions of your children when it comes to stores - they're invariably right!

Emily Brown's second outing is equally as fun and adventurous as the first but this time Emily is run ragged by The Thing, a big fuzzy itchy scratchy wailing crybaby of a monster who seems to have a ton of unreasonable demands to make on her and her righteous bunny companion Stanley.

The Thing has lost his cuddly, so it's up to Emily Brown and Stanley to don their funky night-vision goggles, brave wolves and varmints to climb to the top of the spikiest tree to retrieve The Thing's comfort blanket.

Once done, Emily goes back to her warm comfortable bed - but alas The Thing's tummy is rumbling so loudly, no one can sleep! So it's off to the frozen wastes of Alaska, braving grumpy polar bears to search for a glass of warm milk (Warm milk, Alaska?)

The thing gulps this down, but is still not satisfied. He now has a tickly throat (and it's at this point during our re-reading that Charlotte pulled off the perfect impression of a hacky coughing monster, you see she's a past master at perfecting the fake 'stay awake' cough, which she uses if she's trying to make sure Mummy and Daddy don't get any sleep when she can't!)

What works for a tickly throat? Icky green medicine from the whining witches.

In each case, Emily Brown dutifully does as The Thing asks, but what is really wrong with the big wibbly crybaby really?

He's scared. Of things. In the dark.

At this point, had Charlotte been Emily Brown (and I guess that would make me Stanley) I think we'd have taken The Thing out to the dark scary woods, to the top of that spiky scratchy tree, tied him up with his comfort blanket and left him there until morning - possibly to be ravenously consumed by wolves! Naturally Emily Brown is more tolerant and finally gets to the bottom of Thing's problem. Bless her heart!

Like "That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown", this book has stood the test of time with Charlotte (and like "Rabbit", Charlotte smilingly tolerates my wibbly high-pitched 'Thing' voice as once again he squeals "Oh Emily Brown, Emily Brown!") Cressida's tale is beautifully constructed, Neal's so-called "Scrappy" artwork is subtle, engaging and I just can't imagine the book working as well without it (so what the heck was I on back in 2012? Grumpy pills?)

There are two more Emily Brown adventures. One of which we have read, one of which we haven't. I have to admit that we did not take to "Cheer up your Teddy Bear, Emily Brown" as the story's use of repetition begins to grate after you've said the same lines about 4-5 times (bear in mind again though, 2012 = grumpy pills!) However we now feel that we absolutely MUST track down "Emily Brown and the Elephant Emergency" to ensure we're fully up to speed with the adventures of this imaginative girl and her fab little bunny companion!

Charlotte's best bit: The Thing's diet. 100 hamburgers, plus an apple for the vitamins! LOVE!

Daddy's Favourite bit: With the benefit of hindsight I couldn't have got this one more wrong the first time around, it's a brilliant and entertaining romp and Charlotte still loves it as much at 7 as she did at 3!

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

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"That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown" by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton

"Cheer Up your Teddy Bear Emily Brown" by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton