Tag Archives: Henry and Spot

Cuckoo by Fiona Roberton

Cuckoo: Fiona Roberton (Hodder Children's Books, 2013)

Cuckoo: Fiona Roberton (Hodder Children’s Books, 2013)

We’re already fans of Fiona Roberton from the two Spot and Henry books, and Cuckoo just cements this. It’s one of those books that I need to write about to explain why I love it so much, but just take it as read that the children think it’s ace too.

Cuckoo, as most Cuckoos are, is hatched in a nest of other birds. Mum and two siblings get on well but Cuckoo is… different. The differences throughout the book is played out in the sounds that all the creatures make. Cuckoo says “cuckoo”, his family say “too-too weet”. There are many other animal sounds throughout the book, which is great fun for little ones.

Cuckoo tries, he really tries, but they can’t understand each other so he decides to leave. He searches for someone who understands him, but it seems that everyone is speaking a different language. Then he tries to learn their languages, but no matter how hard he tries he still can’t get it.

Cuckoo: Fiona Roberton (Hodder Children's Books, 2013)

Image from Tales of Little Gribblington website (c) Fiona Roberton

And this is why I am utterly in love with this book. It’s a book about accepting differences, but I see it from an Asperger’s viewpoint. A life trying to fit in, trying so hard to learn everyone else’s language, when what you really need is to find someone who understands your language and then you can communicate freely.

Cuckoo could easily be a child with autism, struggling to understand the world and not quite fitting in. His story gives hope, there will be someone out there who understands you, even if it takes a while to find them. But also his story shows that we all can try to learn to communicate with each other, it’s not just up to Cuckoo to fit in.

We have the paperback version, which doesn’t have any endpapers but I found this image which I assume is from the hardback endpapers, and this consolidates the idea of everyone trying to learn each other’s ‘language’. I wish it had been included in the paperback.

Cuckoo: Fiona Roberton (Hodder Children's Books, 2013)

Image from Tales of Little Gribblington website (c) Fiona Roberton

This is a beautiful book, and even has a cameo from Spot and Henry, and their pet, which is a great ‘in-joke’ for children who have read either of the Spot and Henry books. I adore Cuckoo, it’s told simply and effectively, and is so easy to love on many levels. It ‘talks’ to me in a way that makes me want to share it with the world, but however you read it this is a lovely story, full of great animal sounds to have fun with too!

Disclosure: We received Cuckoo from Hachette Children’s Books for review.

Perfect Presents

We were delighted to receive these two sequels to books that we thoroughly enjoyed. Fiona Roberton’s almost line-drawings are a complete contrast to Rachel Bright’s colourful prints but the art in both is stunning. These are two wonderful series, and I thoroughly recommend both.

The Perfect Present: Fiona Roberton (Hodder Children's Books, 2012, PB 2013)The Perfect Present: Fiona Roberton (Hodder Children’s Books, 2012, PB 2013)

We absolutely loved the first book about Henry and Spot, Wanted: The Perfect Pet, and the duo return here for Henry’s birthday. Spot has found what he thinks is the perfect present, but when Henry gets distracted by another present and doesn’t even open Spot’s, Spot leaves feeling dejected…

Oh, how I feel for poor Spot as he leaves. Not only that but it’s dark and miserable out too, with lightening and things do seem to get a bit hairy… But I’ll let you in on a secret, it does all end well, with Spot and Henry reunited. I am so in love with these characters, they are pitch perfect and adorable. The minimal art style still conveys so much emotion, and it’s all quite wonderfully surreal.

The books are also laid out into chapters, although they are very much in picture book format, but this makes them excellent for early readers. They are more suitable for older (late EYFS/KS1) children because of the subtleties in them, but can be enjoyed by toddlers and pre-schoolers too.

If you’ve not met Henry and Spot yet, I thoroughly recommend finding a copy of Wanted: The Perfect Pet first. The Perfect Present works well independently, but is just even better with the back story.

Love Monster & the Perfect Present: Rachel Bright (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2013)Love Monster & the Perfect Present: Rachel Bright (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013)

Another fabulous sequel following a wonderful first book. We loved Love Monster in his first tale, and this sequel he’s trying to find a special gift for the most special monster in his life. But although the shops are packed full of sparkling gifts, apparently fluff and buttons don’t go very far to buy them…

How wonderful it is for a book to extol the virtues of heartfelt gifts that do not need to cost the earth. We live in such a materialistic society with children constantly bombarded by the messages of consumerism, and I do fall into the trap of wanting to get my children nice gifts, but it’s good to be reminded about all the things that are worth far more than money.

Mighty-Girl has asked me what I want for Christmas, and I have requested one of her books because she writes such wonderful stories. I hope she realises that this means more to me than anything money could ever buy.

Beautifully illustrated, and full of love, this is a great book for Christmas (you can even borrow it from the library to eschew consumerism – but it would be really nice to put in someone you love’s stocking too!)

Disclosure: We were sent copies of The Perfect Present by Hachette Children’s Books and Love Monster and the Perfect Present by HarperCollins Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

[Word count: 523; November word count: 2,129]

Friday Pick{ture Book} #6: Wanted: The Perfect Pet

Wanted: The Perfect Pet: Fiona Roberton
(Hodder Children’s Books, 2009)

Henry wants the perfect pet, the duck wants a friend. They might just be able to help each other.

“I want a pet with personality. I want a dog. [..] Because it is common knowledge,” said Henry, “that a dog is The Perfect Pet for a boy.”

… “Or a girl,” adds MG at this point in the story. I tend to read it as ‘child’ now 😆 The ‘simple’ style of illustration in this book perfectly convey so much emotion and humour. It really is a joy to read aloud but with little details that make it a great reading book too. It could easily be reformatted as an early reader especially as it is made up of three ‘chapters’, however it deserves the bigger format in order to enjoy the art and story fully.

It completely tickles my funny bone – I especially like the classified ads including the castle for rent with ‘atmosphere of impending doom’. The story has a surreal edge in the vein of Oliver Jeffers and the story is wonderfully heartwarming.

This is just a gorgeous book to snuggle up with, and one I’ve read to myself without the children a few times too because it’s so lovely! It also shows us that what we think we want might not be what we actually need, and to take note of what someone is, not what they aren’t.

Wanted: The Perfect Pet was published in paperback on 5 Jul 2012, as was the hardback of The Perfect Present also featuring Henry and his perfect pet. We loved this book and will be looking out for the second in the series, and hopefully more.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Wanted: The Perfect Pet by Hachette Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

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