Friday 8 January 2016

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 8th January 2016 - "Ralf" by Jean Jullien & Gwendal Le Bec (Translation) (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

It feels like we're only just into the new year and yet here is our second Book of the Week of 2016 - The wonderful story of a very bendy stretchy dog named "Ralf"...
Admittedly, it's getting harder to review picture books on the blog and keep Charlotte's interest in what she now sees as "Baby Books" - Her staple fodder is more chapter-book-shaped now but neither of us can resist a book as wonderful as this.

"Ralf" by Jean Jullien, translated by Gwendal Le Bec, is the brilliant story of a fairly ordinary dog. He does all the usual dog things, like sleeping in inappropriate places (poor mum!) or getting under everyone's feet (poor dad!)

But Ralf, the long stretchy and bendy little fellow lives up to the phrase "Every Dog Has Its Day" perfectly one fateful night when his keen nose sniffs out something unusual at home. There's smoke! There's a fire! But despite Ralf's attempts to save his family (which result in Ralf's rather round bottom being stuck in the cat flap) they just won't wake up.

Time for Ralf to stretch his abilities in more ways than one. He bends, he stretches, he licks and barks but still the family won't wake up. He's one smart pooch though, and with a final long st-r-e-e-e-e-e-t-t-t-c-c-h he manages to raise the alarm with the fire brigade, and saves his family with an improvised dog-body-emergency-slide.

YAY for Ralf!

There are many reasons why we love this book. We love Ralf himself, he's such a likeable little chap despite his doggy habits. We love the utterly fantastic expressions on the family's faces in the different scenes (yeah, I identify wholly with Dad's looks that are a cross between abject woe and complete frustration as he trips over Ralf while attempting to do some ironing!)

Mostly though I love this because it really harks back to classic children's picture books of the 60s and 70s where the simplest story is transformed into a gripping and exciting page turner, despite having a fairly low word count and quite simple (but beautifully effective) artwork. If your kids love old classics like Clifford the Big Red Dog and Barbapapa, this is like a gorgeous fusion of the two. Once again, proof positive that the French really know what they're doing when it comes to children's books and we could definitely do with taking more inspiration from our fab cousins across the channel!

Charlotte's favourite bit: Ralf being very licky trying to wake up mum and dad during the fire and the bit where Ralf startles poor mum in the shower.

Daddy's favourite bit: It's so good to see this finally making it over to the UK. A truly fabulous book that harks back to the golden era of children's picture books of the 60s and 70s and one that will have your little ones enthralled from start to finish.

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


Written and Illustrated by Jean Jullien

Translation and localisation by Gwendal Le Bec

Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books

Publication Date (Hardcover): 4th February 2016