Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Have You Ever Ever Ever? by Colin McNaughton and Emma Chichester Clark

This book feels like a love letter to libraries and for that reason alone I love it. I hate it when I read about libraries being forced to close or run by volunteers and their budgets being more and more squeezed. This coupled with a huge literacy push from the government is such a muddling contradiction and makes me mad!
Anyway I am not writing to rant about the failures of those on high to protect our precious libraries but to discuss Have You Ever Ever Ever which beautifully encapsulates the magic and brilliance that can be found within the four walls of a library. It's a cryptic tease of a book which draws you in and through a journey with different well-known (nursery and fairytale) characters. It points out the general craziness of nursery rhyme characters and fairytales in a gentle mocking way to a boy sitting in a playground on his own. It's a poignant image a child playing by himself in an empty playground and makes the big reveal that books can introduce you to a whole different world of friends and scenarios much more powerful. The idea that the library (and books) are full of these wonderful characters just waiting to burst out is a lovely image and just really rather fabulous!

I love the illustrations of Emma Chichester Clark anyway and this book is beautifully done, the repetition and rhythm of the text by Colin McNaughton is lovely. My daughters love it because they know all the characters (with the exception of Punchinello!) and they can join in the story telling. They like to chant the text back at me! All in all a wonderful book which celebrates the magic and secret worlds that books can draw you into.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Charlie and Lola's Extremely New Play

We're having a lovely time with Charlie and Lola at the moment, reading their books and going to see them at the theatre!

Charlie and Lola's Extremely New Play is on at Norwich Playhouse this week. It's a lovely theatre to take children to see productions because of its relatively small size plus the seating is great with clear views. I took both my girls (5 years old and 2 years old) to see it and they both loved the play. It is loosely based on the seasons with as many different plots from the books as they could squeeze in! The amount of effects they used was extremely impressive, I think they were only missing a smoke machine! I had the good fortune (or otherwise) to sit directly underneath the snow machine so that was hilarious for everyone in my party.
It was an unusual children's theatre production in that the voices of Charlie and Lola were pre-recorded (so very recognisable). The characters were puppets and skilfully manipulated by the puppeteers who also constantly changed and rearranged the set. The effects really were magical and the kids got very excited by the giant fish on sticks that swooped through the theatre and the leaves blowing, bubbles floating and the snow coming. All in all it was great and a lovely production, I'm not sure if the tour is continuing but if it comes near you, do go!

We're also enjoying a particular Charlie and Lola book at the moment, This is Actually My Party. The sibling relationship is presented so well in this book and I think it's why both my girls love it. They can understand the youngest wanting to be so involved that she nearly ruins the party for the oldest. It's a funny story of Charlie having his birthday (monster themed) party and Lola trying to help but not really thinking that maybe Charlie would like to open his own presents and cards and play his own party games. It's delightful!

I do like all the Charlie and Lola books we have read but my absolute favourite is I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, a sublime book - up there with the greats! A lot of the later books are based on Lauren Child's characters, and written with the TV scripts in mind, so although they are great stories they are not such complete picture books. So if you haven't read any of them yet I would recommend starting with this one.