Albert Talbot Master of Disguise

Albert Talbot Master of Disguise
Ben Manley and Aurélie Guillerey
Two Hoots

From Ben Manley the author of The Misadventures of Frederick and the illustrator of Daddy Long Legs, Aurélie Guillerey, comes a book that celebrates the power of the imagination in children.

We spend a day in the company of young Albert and his various alter egos from the time his mother calls him to get up until she tucks him in to bed at night.

In between Albert is faced with a number of challenges each of which he rises to by assuming a new persona.

First as his mum wakes him, he’s notorious desperado Clate Stouderhoofen, ‘the incognito kid, the man with no name’. W-hay!

As he has to leave for school, Albert is ‘Rusti Buffels, Fearless Mountaineer and climber of Mount Chirrachit. Show and tell time sees him as Professor Octavius Pickleswick, mechanical engineer presenting his greatest robotic invention.

At the poolside before his swimming lesson,

he becomes Zandrian Delaclair, Antarctic Submariner – destroyer of the abominable Vampire Cuttlefish! – you bet!

Back home there’s one more change of identity and then, come bedtime, tired by his day of imaginings, Albert realises that at that particular moment as sleep calls, he’s very happy just to be himself.

Children and adults alike will delight in the weird and wonderful names Ben Manley has created for Albert in his far-out fusion of fantasy and reality, while Aurélie Guillerey’s illustrations, be they those of Albert’s imagination or reality, are full of quirky detail as they show the boy as hero or rule subverter.

Imagination is power – what a great message.

There’s a Lion in the Library!

There’s a Lion in the Library!
Dave Skinner and Aurélie Guillerey
Orchard Books

Here’s a simply delicious reworking of The Boy Who Cried Wolf fable starring a little girl named Lucy Lupin. Lucy might appear a little sweetie but in fact she’s a holy terror whose favourite thing is to tell lies – absolute whoppers!

It all begins one Monday morning when this young miss makes the titular announcement to the librarian, claiming the creature is chomping through the history books.

An emergency is declared and the library evacuated while a search takes place.

A similar thing happens on the Tuesday when our mischief-maker informs the caretaker that the lion is devouring books in the romance section. Then come Wednesday the announcement is made to the coffee shop manager who insists all library visitors run for their lives.

For the third time the search for said creature proves fruitless.

The three library workers have a meeting to consider this mysterious visiting creature. Could it perhaps be that when it comes to sweet-looking little girls, appearances can be deceptive?

A day or two later, young Lucy Lupin returns to the library. On this particular day however, things go a little differently …

I’m a terrific enthusiast when it comes to fractured fairy tales and fables, and this one is a cracker to read aloud. Aurélie Guillerey’s illustrations have a slightly retro look reminiscent of Roger Duvoisin and her characters both human and leonine are splendid.