A Great Big Cuddle

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A Great Big Cuddle
Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell
Walker Books
Thirty five super-silly new poems from the Rosen pen each one stupendously illustrated by Riddell simply sizzle with the joys of early childhood and a few of the pains too.
I love his playful take on beginning reading – Reading Lesson:
This is how you read:/Can you see?/ This says “you”/ This says “me”./ /
When you see “me”/ You say “me”/ When you see “you”/ Say “you” – do you see?//
Altogether now:/ Can you see?/ You, you, you/ Me, me, me.??
Well done all./ That’s it for today. You can all read./ You can go and play.
But in reality every single one of these delicious offerings is a better in-built reading lesson than any of the contrived phonics or word recognition sessions that children in their early years are all too often subjected to.
What Rosen is doing in this book is enhancing children’s metalinguistic awareness and what comes across here loud and clear is that language is fun and playing around with it even more so…

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As one would expect, rhyme, rhythm and repetition are key ingredients and there’s a fair amount of nonsense with occasional echoes of Lear and Milligan alongside some more serious poems such as Lost wherein a small being sits contemplating being left all alone. There are rhymes that make you want to sit still and savour the words and others such as TIPPY-TAPPY and BOING! BOING! that make you and certainly tinies want to get up and move: Boing! Boing!/ Bounce bounce/ I’m a ball/ Bounce bounce./ Jump jump/ Pounce pounce/ I’m a tiger/ Pounce pounce/ ROARRRRRR!

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Riddell’s visual interpretations in pencil and watercolour are often gloriously inventive …

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and at appropriate times, quietly reflective renderings of moments of tenderness …

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His menagerie of larger than life animals, imaginary creatures and monsters provide talking points aplenty and a visual treat to match Rosen’s verbal ones on every spread.
A two-laureate treat and a must have book for anyone who has dealings with the very young. Buy it for the words, buy it for the pictures, buy it because in tandem the whole experience is a joy.

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