Thursday, May 4, 2017

Alfie and Dad by Shirley Hughes (Bodley Head)

If you ever wanted to see a fantastic example of how to write 'dad' books for children, look no further than this perfect little trio of stories from Shirley Hughes.
We've always loved the "Alfie" books, and so it's something of a treat to have three stories packed into one book.

Not only that, to have three stories featuring Alfie and his dad Simon. We have a bit of a bee in our bonnets about the way dads are often portrayed in children's books. Usually clumsy, a bit hopeless, endlessly gluttonous, with terrible dress sense and an awful sense of humour.

Thankfully Alfie's dad is a little bit more true to life and he's a fantastic person to spend time with.

Across three fab little stories, Alfie's dad helps chase away imaginary monsters during a sleepover, he comes to the rescue when Alfie's beloved favourite toy is lost on the bus, and he also offers sage and sensible advice when a lost cat wants to move into Alfie's house.

The beauty of Shirley's books are simply that there's so much adventure and excitement for children in seemingly ordinary life. When reading these to Charlotte I was secretly hoping she'd pick up on that, and she did. To her, the thought of imaginary friends sleeping under your bed in a sleepover was exciting, scary even. A lost property office became an Aladdin's cave, and of course anything involving cute adorable kittens (particularly called Dilys!) is going to have her 'awwing' and 'ahhing'.

For me though, this is the sort of book that a dad blogger would love to see more of. Sadly, I think there's just too much 'easy comedy' in making dads the subject of mockery and ridicule, but if you'd love to buck that trend, pick up a copy of this in preparation for Father's Day and celebrate dads who aren't just the usual two-dimensional idiot characters tacked into a story for comic effect.

Charlotte's best bit: Kittens called Dilys, and the wonder of a London Transport lost property office - like a glittering treasure trove (if such a place exists she's been demanding to go there ever since reading this!)

Daddy's favourite bit: That rare jewel, a brilliant "Dad" book - in fact a brilliant family book that feels like a breath of fresh air compared to the stale old fart of a gag that dads are useless. Fabulous stuff as ever from Shirley.

(Kindly supplied for review)

"Alfie and Dad" by Shirley Hughes is out today, published by Bodley Head.