Friday, 10 July 2015

ReadItDaddy's 2nd Book of the Week - Week Ending 10th July 2015 - "There's a Lion in my Cornflakes" by Michelle Robinson and Jim Field (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

We are fashionably late to the party with this one, as it came out a year ago. Quite how we missed it first time round is beyond us, but now it's just come out in paperback it's time to dive into this big box of cereal-based fun.

Once again a book has recalled the days when cereal choices were made not on nutritional content, amount of sugar and salt or whether you could feel good about your 5-a-day intake when scoffing a bowlful of something that looks like it's been scraped out of the back end of your hoover bag. No, when we were kids, brekkie was chosen purely because of the free gifts or ludicrously convoluted token-collecting offers on each pack. I remember a story of two kids who genuinely saved up enough bottle tops or tokens to get their own Harrier Jump Jet (a joke offer made by one company back in the 80s who never expected that kids would have the moxy to actually save up or scrape together a million items to send off for one! WRONG!) I wondered if it was the inspiration for this tale!

The two boys in Michelle and Jim's story, two mischievous brothers, come up with a plan to buy 100 packets of cornflakes. Why? Well, because if you collect 100 tokens from the packs, you can send off for your own, your very own LION!

Despite incurring the wrath of mum and dad (and being forced to eat the spoils of their ill-fated plan) the boys post off their coupons dutifully, and wait.

And wait....

And wait...

(Again I remember the hilarious days when "Allow 28 days for delivery" was an optimistic outside bet - sending off for things nearly always involved waiting for half a year for your goodies to turn up!)

Everyone else in the neighbourhood seems to have got their lions and parade them around the park. This is one of our favourite parts of the story as you see all the kids parading around with their new pet Lions, who are up to all sorts of japes and tricks. We really loved the skateboarding lions and of course Charlotte laughed her head off at one lion cocking his leg up a tree much to the disgust and horror of his little girl owner!

The boys are still waiting when a package finally arrives. But there's no lion inside, just a rather surly grizzly bear. WHO WOULD WANT THAT? A letter of complaint is sent, but instead of a grizzly bear the cornflake company send out a crocodile (who is a notorious bathroom hog).

This is no good either, and one more frenzied phone call results in the company sending a Gorilla - that promptly trashes dad's fabulous Ford Anglia (nice one, Jim! LOVE that car and even Charlotte recognised it, possibly because it's what Ron and Harry drove in the second Harry Potter movie!)

Frustrated and annoyed, the boys enlist some help from dad and soon they're off to the company to complain in person. Will they come home proud owners of a lion after all?

This story is a hoot from start to finish. It's almost like a delicately constructed farce that touches on the optimistic views of children who think owning a particular pet will always be idyllic, and it's also a fantastic dig at our consumerist society and the way certain companies (who shall remain nameless) play fast and loose when it comes to not quite delivering on their product promises.

Ultimately though, we think Michelle and Jim are a heck of a team. Michelle's comic props are laced with cheekiness and hilarity and at times absolute chaos (we love a good dose of chaos in children's books). Jim's art is perfect and I lost count of the amount of times his details and touches made us giggle like idiots (that pastiche of a certain well loved children's book right towards the end of the story did not go unnoticed Jim. Fan-flipping-tastic!)

We're very pleased we caught up with "There's a Lion in my Cornflakes" - it's a riotously funny and brilliant book!

Charlotte's best bit: So many bits made her genuinely laugh out loud but she loved the scene in the park as the kids are all showing off their lions

Daddy's Favourite bit: Cheeky humour, tight writing, gloriously funny illustrations and a story that is as satisfying as a huge bowl of cornflakes splashed with ice cold milk. Wonderfully hilarious stuff!

There's a Lion in my Cornflakes

Written by Michelle Robinson

Illustrated by Jim Field

Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books

Release Date: 5th May 2015 (Paperback)

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

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