Tag Archives: Diane and Christyan Fox

Monsters and Underpants; Dinosaurs and Poo

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Monsters Love Underpants
Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
Simon & Schuster
We’ve had aliens, pirates and dinosaurs with a penchant for underpants; now it’s the turn of monsters, all manner of the beasties. We meet the howlers a-prowl in dingy dungeons and drooly swamp dwellers who fill their pants with gooey slime;

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YUCK – you can imagine what happens to those. Then there’s the spiky, spooky variety from outer space, not to mention the enormous sand dwelling monster whose bum just won’t fit comfortably into his pants. All these and more sport their snazzy underpants at the Saturday night disco and what a sight they look as they jiggle and jive …

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but they must be sure to leave on time. For as they say,
We can’t risk being spotted!
For no one will be scared of us,
In pants all striped and dotted.”
Make sure you don’t leave a pair of yours under the bed …
I can see this one going down a storm in early years settings. The sight of those, mock scary monsters with their day-glo undies is guaranteed to have young children giggling with delight at every turn of the page and the rhyming text is great fun to read aloud. Be prepared for cries of “read it again’ at the end.
I can see lots of potential for creative work here too.

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Savouring the story?

Dinosaur Poo!
Diane and Christyan Fox
Words & Pictures (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Poo is one topic that unfailingly seems to delight young children; another is dinosaurs: put the two together in a zany no holds barred rhyming text and add wacky, vividly coloured illustrations of dinosaurs in all shapes and sizes, plus flaps to open and reveal all manner of pongy ploppings and it seems you cannot fail to please the under sixes. Certainly that’s the case when the Pterodactyl sets out to prove the superiority of his poo to an unimpressed Velociraptor and the two embark on the biggest and best poo quest.

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Seemingly they are not the only interested ones though; there’s a ladybird that keeps popping up at every dropping site. Fun endpapers too.

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The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf and Grandma’s Wardrobe

I have always been fascinated by fairy tales and Red Riding Hood has always had a special place in my affections. Indeed it was the inspiration for the title of my weblog so I was particularly delighted to receive a copy of this:

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The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf and Grandma’s Wardrobe
Diane and Christyan Fox
Words & Pictures (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
I always encourage children to ask questions about stories, though I prefer questions to be saved to the end of the reading rather than during the story. The irrepressible, superhero-obsessed Dog in this tale however insists on keeping up a constant flow of questions right through the whole of Cat’s reading of Little Red Riding Hood. Here’s his first interjection on learning the story is about a little girl who wears a red hooded cloak: “Cool! I love stories about superheroes. What’s her special power?” Cat continues reading about the basket of food and ‘dainties’ she’s taking to her grandmother.
So, kindness is her special power? Does she hypnotise bad guys into being nice? … I bet she zaps him with her KINDNESS RAY.” Cat is beginning to get exasperated. Dog too; a clear case of misunderstanding – crime fighting without a zapper?

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Exploding eggs? Whack the bad guy with a dainty? Now Cat too, despite his increasing exasperation, starts to see the story is not without its faults… ‘ “There’s NO kindness ray, NO flying basket and NO exploding eggs. She’s just a sweet little girl with terrible fashion sense on her way to see her grandmother.” ‘
The whole thing gets more and more hilarious as Dog’s imagination runs wild and Cat tries his best to keep his cool, eventually reaching his favourite part: ‘ “She arrived and said, “What big eyes you have Grandma,” and the wolf replied, All the better to see you with.” Whereupon Dog expresses disgust with the heroine. “She’s not very bright is she? I mean if there were a wolf dressed up as MY grandma, I might have noticed right away.” and then with the traditional fairy tale “And they all lived happily ever after.” finale.

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He even questions its suitability as a book for children. His summary of the whole thing is absolutely superb. But it’s his last (so he says) question that causes Cat to throw in the book – literally.
I’d be surprised if you can read this aloud without breaking into fits of giggles: I certainly couldn’t. The combination of uncrushable characters, chucklesome text and spare, brilliantly expressive cartoon style illustrations with sparingly-used splashes of colour make for an unforgettable read.
This one has a wide age appeal and is a real boon to teachers wanting to explore fairy tales with a class of older children.

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