Monday, 23 March 2015

Exciting action and adventure on the high seas with the Little Tim series by Edward Ardizzone (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

The Little Tim Series

Written and Illustrated by
Edward Ardizzone

Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books

I've been a fan of Edward Ardizzone's peerless ink work since I was a tiny tiddler. Edward's illustrations for Clive King's "Stig of the Dump" are among my earliest memories of what made me fall completely in love with books. Clive's descriptions were rich and imaginative, but having Edward's illustrations to fill in the gaps was a real boost. It's still one of my favourite stories today and one I can't wait to pass on to Charlotte now she's old enough to appreciate longer stories.

We're looking at Edward's own story series here though, and the Little Tim books - which have been polished to a high sheen and reprinted by Frances Lincoln Children's Books.

Though I'm not quite old and codgerly enough to remember these first time round (the first Little Tim stories were published way back in 1936!), Frances Lincoln are reprinting the "Little Tim" series as a set of gorgeous hardback books, retaining the original pacing and illustrations - and offering you richly luxurious audio versions read by Stephen Fry (a man whose voice I could happily listen to for hours) as well. What a superb bonus!

Though Edward died in 1979, and some might feel that these stories are a bit dated, they have an electrifying effect on Charlotte. She clamours loudly for them whenever we settle down for a read and a cuddle, perhaps it's the exciting life this little chap leads in his life beside the sea.

We've been enjoying the reprints of "Tim All Alone", "Tim and the Brave Sea Captain", "Tim to the Rescue" and "Tim's Friend Towser" - Each story opens with Tim longing for a life on the ocean wave but finding that a seafaring life is often fraught with danger.

Tim outwits bullies, cares for adorable animals, befriends salty coves and brave sea captains, and even makes a friend for life with a boy named Ginger and a dog named Towser - both of which feature in a couple of the books in the series that were Charlotte's two favourites (She particularly loved "Tim to the Rescue" where Ginger rather naughtily steals a crewman's hair tonic, only to find his own luxurious red locks won't stop growing!)

We also love Edward's gift with expressions and the way that, in one particular adventure where Tim and Ginger are sneaking their food on board ship to a lost puppy, both Tim and Ginger grow increasingly skeletal as they virtually starve themselves to feed Towser! Eek!

We've read these books through several times, often in one glorious gulp as they're quite long but immensely satisfying. We really hope to see more reprints of Edward Ardizzone's stories from Frances Lincoln as they're superbly exciting adventures, with utterly gorgeous ink and wash illustrations that almost leap off the page.

Some folk might take issue with the way some of the paragraphs are broken up when reading aloud, which makes for a bit of trickiness (I can't quite think how to describe it adequately but it won't matter much, you'll be reading these tales again and again so you'll learn them off by heart anyway!)

Ultimately though, you are in for a good solid treat with these stories, harking back to a time when life was so much simpler, and the life of a young boy (or girl for that matter) could be a life packed with excitement, adventure and derring-do!

Charlotte's best bit: Ginger's wonderful long curly hair after stealing someone's hair tonic (that won't stay short no matter how many times it's cut!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: A fantastic timeless set of stories that have an amazing effect on modern children, who have no concept of the sort of fantastic life Edward Ardizzone describes for young Tim. Utterly amazing stuff despite tiny niggles about the disjointed pacing (that truly won't get in the way of you enjoying these books immensely!)

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