We're still in France (though again, this review is probably going to come out weeks afterwards!), and still trying to enjoy reading in a log cabin despite Disneyland being just around the corner! A beautiful place to read some beautiful stories :)
1) The Something - Rebecca Cobb (Author & Illustrator)
If you want a story that perfectly captures the spirit of a child's imagination, then be sure to pick up The Something, because the search for the truth behind what's inside a hole in the garden (and the differing responses of each character) is the perfect mirror for how imagination can run wild in the most exciting way.
I'm sure we've all seen a dark space like a hole or cave somewhere and wondered what secrets it held, and a child's imagination with that sort of thing is limitless with possibilities, so I had great fun with Josh & Xander talking about what they thought it could be. I love that the ending doesn't give an answer, but instead suggests all of them could be true, which to me is a great way of saying that exploring your imagination is the only thing that matters.
Definitely most likely to be a dragon though, if I had to guess...
Chris says: This is so fantastic for firing up the kids' imaginations because it gets them to a) think about which of the suggested answers for what's in the hole is correct, and b) come up with their own suggestions.
Josh says: I wouldn't want to stick my hand in there.
Xander: RAAAAAAAA! I AM A DRAGON!
2) Quest - Aaron Becker (Author & Illustrator)
We couldn't not finish this trilogy as soon as possible, could we? Having read parts 1 & 3, it feels a little weird finishing in the middle, but you really can pick most of the story up at any point in this series. Best of all, this might be my favourite of the lot.
It's a classic second story, taking the basic idea of the first book (a magic pen that draws objects in life) and ramping it all up to 11 (there are SIX pens in total, and they need to be found before falling into the wrong hands). There's also a captured king to rescue. Seriously, it's like Aaron Becker just looked into my soul and said, 'Here you are mate, feast on this'.
The illustrations are just as beautiful, of course, and the world he has created as desirable to visit as any other I've read recently. Once again, the lack of any words places the reader in the driving seat when it comes to interpreting the story to a certain extent, and the kids loved telling me what they thought was going on.
Fantastic imagination and creativity on display in one of the greatest fantasy series that it's been my pleasure to read this last decade. Nay, scrap that; 'tis not just a pleasure, it's an honour.
Chris says: I'm in total love with this series for it's imagination, creativity, the world it builds, the quests it sends us on, the stunning illustrations, the way we get to tell it different every time, the action, the adventure, the excitement...
Josh says: I would like the green pen.
Xander says: I like the bird.
3) Horrible Bear! - Ame Dyckman (Author) & Zachariah OHora
Emotions are difficult to cope with and especially so when you're young and just learning how to deal with them. This story should therefore feel familiar to everyone, as a little girl gets the wrong end of the stick in believing that a bear has broken her kite, when in reality it was an accident that he knew nothing about. She's right to be upset of course, but then so is the bear when he's innocent. What follows is a great lesson in tolerance as the girl realises she shouldn't jump to conclusions and get angry at something without the truth.
The illustrations are strong, everyone has particularly fine fur or hair, and the bear shouting 'rawr rawr rawr' tickled me pink more than it was probably meant to, just because I imagine him firing off a string of curses in bear language as he runs to confront the girl.
It's also lovely in the way she says sorry just as he's about to complain, and they spend time making friends together. A beautiful resolution to a delightful story, with a fantastic message about reining in your temper and not jumping to conclusions.
Chris says: Another great story to help talk gently to your children about a moral issue, and illustrated with such lovely bold colours (and fantastic fur/hair!).
Josh says: I like how they fixed things together.
Xander says: Rawrrrrrrrrr!
So, to summarise Day 77...
A proper feel good evening tonight! We saw our imaginations fully engaged with guessing what was inside the hole in The Something, we went on a quest in a far off land in Quest, and we talked about the importance of not jumping to conclusions and getting annoyed at other people for no good reason. Reading together is one of the best ways of putting a smile on our faces, and we love doing so as often as possible, particularly when we get to read a wonderful selection of books like these!