Sunday, May 17, 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 14: "The Emily Brown Books" by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton (Hodder Children's Books)

A great many of the books you'll read about in our #Booky100Keepers articles were originally library loans from our glorious local library here in Abingdon. We feel very fortunate to have such a good library, and we feel like we owe them a great debt - because without them we would not have got this blog up and running in the first place.

We've paid it forward with masses of book donations to them over the years but hold on there pardner, let's talk about this brilliant set of books because that's what we're here for after all.

"That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown" by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton was one of the books C would pull out of the library stacks on more or less every trip we made there, so in the end it just made sense to buy our own copy. The story of an imaginative little girl and her 'pet' rabbit Stanley is one we've read time and time again, even very recently too - and part of the reason for its popularity is the zaniness of it, and the fact that it's become something of a performance piece as well (a lot of the books you'll find in our #Booky100Keepers fall into the same bracket - as much fun to read aloud and 'perform' for me as they are for C to read / hear).

Vrrm Vrmmm! Gotta love Neal's art, it's just too, too good
Emily and Stanley just want to go on adventures together, but every time they embark on an amazing journey, there's an interruption, a knock at the door, and a pestering series of semi-officious folk who have but one thing on their mind - nabbing Stanley for naughty Queen Gloriana, a spoilt little girl who will stop at nothing to get what she wants (and what she wants is poor Stanley!)

No amount of bargaining works, Emily just won't give up her best pal, not for all the talking dolls and golden teddy bears in the kingdom. So the queen's troops resort to stealthy means, and steal poor Stanley away in the middle of the night.

Emily is no dummy though so when she wakes up to find Stanley missing, she knows exactly where to go. Off to the palace - but what on earth has that nasty queen done to poor Stan!?!

Every time I read this aloud to C I would adopt a series of daft (often posh, military-sounding) voices for the queen's troops. Cressida crafts the story in a fantastic crazy and haphazard series of encounters until the final showdown, where Emily Brown deftly delivers the moral message to that bratty queen but with an undertone of kindness that ends up as the final page in the story. Neal's illustrations - well what can you write about them. They're zany, scribbly but always absolutely and utterly brilliant and fitting in every story he either writes himself or collaborates on with others and his work here is just awesome.

C's other favourite Emily Brown book is "Emily Brown and the Thing" again by Cressida and Neal. This time Emily Brown has to put up with the world's most fidgety and restless monster, a right pain in the neck who keeps pestering Emily Brown and Stanley as they're trying to drift off into dreamland for a night's well earned sleep.

The monster has itchy legs, an annoying cough, can't find his blankie, wants a drink of milk - and so it goes on. Parents in particular will love this book as they will instantly recognise 'the monster' as behaving in exactly the same way their kids do when it comes to bedtime (C is the absolute QUEEN of dragging out a bedtime far longer than she should, I think her record stands at about 3 hours so far!).

"For the vitamins" - a single line that cracks us up every. single. time
As with the rest of the Emily Brown series, the huge roaring success of this (again initially another library loan until we read their copy to death and ended up buying our own) is partially due to the way it's performed / read aloud. The monster has a squeaky high pitched whiny voice despite his grim appearance, and it's glorious the way the tale draws to a brilliant conclusion - the monster is scared of monsters! So once again wise Emily Brown is on hand to dish out level headed wisdom (and hopefully get some sleep!)

We love all the books but these two are just utterly perfect, sublime and well worth your time.

Original Reviews:

That Rabbit Belongs To Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton (Hodder Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's SECOND Book of the Week - Week Ending 6th March 2015 - "That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown" by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton (Hodder Children's Books)

Emily Brown and the Thing

Emily Brown and the Thing (Re-Review) by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton (Hodder Children's Books)

Cheer up your Teddy Bear, Emily Brown (Re-Review) by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton (Hodder Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's Christmas Picture Book of the Week / Booky Advent Calendar Day 7: "Emily Brown and Father Christmas" by Neal Layton and Cressida Cowell (Hodder Children's Books)

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