The Dressing-Up Dad / Little Monster’s Day Out with Dad

The Dressing-Up Dad
Maudie Smith and Paul Howard
Oxford University Press
I’m sure most children are embarrassed by their parents from time to time: I suspect the boy in this funny story with its being yourself no matter what theme, feels increasingly that way as he gets older.
Danny’s Dad, like his son just loves to dress-up: I don’t mean in his favourite gear say, his best jeans and T-shirt. Oh no! Danny’s Dad really gets into the swing of the young lad’s fantasy play, donning whatever costume he deems appropriate for the situation in hand. He might become a space rocket, a fearsome dragon;

a wizard at the library, or a snow bear; and at Danny’s themed birthday parties, you can guess who was the most dreadful dinosaur or the dastardliest of pirates …

As Danny’s next birthday approaches, Dad contemplates his attire: should he perhaps be a ladybird, a dragonfly; there are plenty of bugs to choose from. Danny however, has other ideas for his Dad this year. And yes, he does look pretty cool as an ‘ordinary everyday’ dad but can he resist the invitation of Danny’s pals who have decided they want to be chased by a giant caterpillar. I wonder …

There’s a dilemma at the heart of this story and it’s evident in the body language and facial expressions of Danny’s Dad at the party. He’s doing his level best to enjoy being the perfect ordinary father when inside he’s torn: what he really wants is to don a costume and be a bug too; but how can he please himself and at the same time please his son? Paul Howard portrays all this and much more so adeptly in his enchanting illustrations. The presence of Danny’s lively dog wanting in on all the action and managing to creep in to almost every scene adds to the visual enjoyment of Maudie Smith’s captivating story.

Little Monster’s Day Out with Dad
Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt
Little Monster is excited at the prospect of a day trip to the fair with his dad, despite the fact that they’re going by car rather than train: that at least is the intention. No sooner on the road though than they’re held up in a traffic jam; when the car breaks down en route, after which the rescue truck gets a flat tyre, one begins to wonder whether they’ll ever reach their destination at all. Thank goodness then, for the bus: and there’s room for all aboard.

Finally they arrive at the fair ground and it seems as though Little Monster might be going to get his longed-for train ride after all …

With its funny, suitably garish Sharratt scenes with their plethora of flaps to lift, large print and sturdy pages, this will please most little monsters about the age of the chief protagonist herein.

I’ve signed the charter  

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam The Diamond Chase


Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Diamond Chase
Steve Lenton and Tracey Corderoy
Nosy Crow
Criminals no longer, Shifty and Sam have replaced their swag bags with bakers hats and are now to be found baking for toffs in upmarket abodes and serving only the jammiest of doughnuts to their clients. They’re presently occupied preparing for Lady Kate’s birthday ball at Woofington Hall where we find them whisking and whirling, patting and icing despite the presence of Lady Kate’s mischievous young nephew, Barnaby who wants to play ball.


When all the guests are seated and eagerly awaiting the commencement of the feast set out before their eyes, there is one notable absentee, their host, Lady K.
Suddenly she burts on the scene exclaiming “A thief! At my party! My diamond tiara has gone. I’ve been ROBBED!” Silence falls over the room and is then broken by assurances from Sam and Shifty about their thief catching activities of yore and off the three of them go to the crime scene.


There Lady Kate points out the absence not only of her tiara but also the statue upon which she’d hung it while she set about fluffing her hair. Black and white things are mentioned and suspicion falls immediately on a penguin waiter who just happens to pass by, only to beat a hasty retreat into one of the rooms …


But the thief’s capture isn’t in the bag so to speak quite yet, for what his pursuers find behind the door is not just the one, but a whole plethora of penguins quite simply, having a ball.


Will Shifty and Sam unmask the thief and take possession of the missing tiara? Or, will one of their number, Sidney Scarper, do as his name says and well, scarper? Maybe the robber-chasers will have something to thank Barnaby for after all …
With a perfect finale – for most, but not quite the entire cast of characters, this hugely enjoyable romp is sure to please all Shifty and Sam’s established fans, and likely win them a whole lot more, to boot.

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