I was recently sent some books to review by publishers My Little Big Town, who are very keen to publish books children actually want to read. This may, of course, make the more traditional amongst you recoil in horror, but as a teacher and a parent I see how important it is to get children engaged in books and reading and I’m afraid times, they are a-changing. ‘The Secret Garden’ just isn’t working its magic any more. My son takes no interest in the classics, but give him a book involving bodily functions and he is putty in your hands. So, it was with great interest that I awaited the books that My Little Big Town was sending me.
Enclosed in the package were three books by Calvin Innes from the Tiny Twisted Tales series. My eight-year old daughter saw them on the table and exclaimed ‘Ooh! I’ve read one of these at school!’ and then picked up one of the other titles and started to read. Always a good sign.
The titles sent to me were ‘Jenny’, ‘Pale Henry’ and ‘Stuart the Bug Eating Man’. I am going to review the latter, but it was Pale Henry that my daughter had previously enjoyed and enthused about, so that may be next on my list.
The title tells you all you need to know about the storyline. Forget ‘I’m a Celebrity’, this guy actually enjoys eating bugs, and plenty of them! Written in rhyme and with an illustration at every turn of the page, the book provoked many laughs and a good few ‘eughs’ too! Wittily written and fast-paced, Innes tells the tale of Stuart, who eats all sorts of creepy crawlies and firmly believes “it’s the wriggly ones that taste the best.” His long-suffering wife, fed up with the “centipede sandwiches”, “juice, made of slugs all ground down” and Stuart’s lack of employment, tells him to get a job and help pay the bills. So Stuart spends the day in his shed and comes up with the perfect solution!
I read it to my children who loved it and made me return to the more grisly bits to read again. And again. Reminiscent of Dahl’s ‘Revolting Rhymes’, I recommend this to those of you whose children revel in the repugnant. The rhyme and clear font make it an easy read and, in my opinion, it is most suitable for children aged 5-10. Just don’t read it before eating…..