Friday, 30 November 2018

ReadItDaddy's Third Book of the Week - Week Ending 30th November 2018: "The Bandit Queen" by Natalia and Lauren O'Hara (Picture Puffin)

Our Third Picture Book of the Week this week is a scintillating and thoroughly mischievous future classic from an incredibly talented duo...
Just over a year ago, the O'Hara sisters staked their claim on our "Book of the Week" slot with their incredible debut picture book "Hortense and the Shadow".

Since then we've been waiting with baited breath to see what these amazing sisters would come up with next. Sneaky little peeks at their next title were shown off on Twitter, which just ramped up our anticipation.

Now we hold in our hands a copy of "The Bandit Queen" and it's every bit as brilliant, original and mischievous as we'd hoped it would be.

The story opens with a nefarious crew of bandits who will stop at nothing to get up to all kinds of naughtiness. Stealing candy from kids? No problem! Smashing and bashing things for giggles and japes? Yep, that's part of their remit too.

But all changes one day when this ultra-naughty crew take one step too far - and rob an orphanage. What sort of complete meanies would do such a thing?

Stealing from an orphanage? What cads and bounders!
The bandits discover something strange hiding out in a picnic basket. It's a little girl, and her behaviour might even be a match for those naughty bandits themselves.

In fact they're so impressed by her antics that they elect her their bandit queen!

But a life of crime isn't for everyone, and soon the wee mite wonders when this band of naughty boys will grow up - and perhaps even enjoy other things in the world, other than the fruits of their many crimes.

Calamitous chaos follows the bandits and their queen wherever they go!
Perhaps their diminutive queen might have a really great plan to reverse their life of misbehaviour after all!

This story bounces along at a cracking pace right out of the gate, as you instantly fall in love with the idea of a group of characters who will stop at nothing to have a REALLY good time.

It feels like a story you might have read in a classic book of fairy tales, it's that much of an instant endearing classic - in fact just like "Hortense and the Shadow" which felt steeped in the story structure and mythos of children's authors like Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.

The Sisters O'Hara are far from grim though, they have once again charmed us with a tale that at first allows us to live the vicarious life of the bandits, before revealing a brilliant little moral at its heart that made us both think how great it would be to at least enjoy some moments of supreme naughtiness before having to join the 'real world'.

The end is just perfect, and if it doesn't lead to another story about this brilliant bunch of characters we'll probably be a wee bit sad - but whatever Natalia and Lauren turn their hand to next, we'll definitely be watching closely as their stories are just utterly brilliant.

C's best bit: Inevitably, she was very much taken by the initial terrible behaviour of the bandits (and of course couldn't resist a loud gigglesnort at the line about 'peeing without due care and attention').

Daddy's favourite bit: I'd give my eye teeth for talent like this, the ability to craft and create a story that instantly feels like a proper classic fairy tale. It's shot through with delicious mischief, the illustrations are wild, imaginative and absolutely hilarious. This is just SO GOOD!

"The Bandit Queen" by Natalia and Lauren O'Hara is out now, published by Picture Puffin (kindly supplied for review).