I am pleased to announce that my son had moved on from Peppa Pig (aka I very rarely let him watch it and when he does he still is totally transfixed with the little pink pig) now we have moved onto all things Gruffalo. He has the wellies, the watering can and gardening tools, umbrella, the DVDs…and all the wonderful books.
I am a real Julia Donaldson fan – her use of rhyming couplets is so fun, simple and a delight to read. It’s no shock to find out that she first started writing lyrics to songs before becoming a children’s author and from 2012, Children’s Laureate. And rightly so, in my opinion, every one of her books is brilliant. So when it came to picking a favourite to review – I must admit I found it hard – so I left it to my son Rocco who chose Zog.
Zog is another example of a beautiful book that dances along as you read it out loud, with sections of repeated verse that any child you are reading this with can latch onto and join along with before the end of the book. It’s a lovely tale about a little dragon, Zog, whose determination to win gold stars at school whilst learning to stand on his own two clumsy feet leads him into loads of mishaps but luckily he always gets help from a little girl called Pearl. Pearl is just as helpful when he needs a princess to rescue. Soon Zog, the princess and the prince who wants to marry her are off to do good in the world in this witty reinvention of the role of dragons.
We can’t discuss one of Julia’s books though without a mention of the lovely illustrations. Axel Scheffer has produced another delightful work here with Zog. His colourful dragons jump out of the page and have their own individual quirks that mean there’s as much life in the illustrations as the words. Zog himself is charming and orange, but he’s not alone and his friends include a cute little tiger-skinned dragon, a chubby blue one and a purple chap with chicken legs and horns. Me and Rocco also like to spot the little cameo’s from familiar friends that we know from her other books in Axel’s busy illustrations.
If you are already a fan of their work, you’ll be adding Zog to your collection anyway, but if you are not, then this is a fab story with a great message that your children love. Buy it, you won’t be disappointed!
I’ll leave you with this poem that Julia penned to describe her day to day work, which I found on her website http://www.juliadonaldson.co.uk/ Being self employed myself it raised a smile…
A day in my life
Tea in bed. Second cup.
Dislodge cats.Get up.
Son to school. Spouse to work.
Sit at desk – mustn’t shirk.
Scratch head. Dream up snail.
Maybe team her up with whale?
Chew pen. What next?
Can’t think. Feel vexed.
Feed cats. Open post.
Read it, over slice of toast.
Little boy wants to know
Date of birth of Gruffalo.
Little girl wonders why
Giant gave away his tie.
Out to shops. Get idea
(Big grin, ear to ear):
Brilliant climax – whale gets beached!
(Rhyme a problem . . . reached? Beseeched?
Leeched? Well never mind, just now.)
Snail then rescues whale – but how???
Back home, get stuck.
Go off snail. Consider duck.
Phone rings. Who is it?
School, requesting author visit.
Check diary . . . shocked to see
“Monday, Brookwood Library”.
That’s today! Leap in car.
Thank goodness, not far.
Tell a story, act and sing.
Kids join in with everything.
(Teacher sits there marking books,
Blind to my accusing looks.)
Answer questions. Back to house.
Joined by son, later spouse.
Open bottle. Cook salmon.
Practise piano. Play Backgammon.
Have bath – that’s when
Inspiration strikes again:
Snail could learn to write with slime!
(Quite an easy word to rhyme.)
Crawls on blackboard, leaves a trail . . .
Children run and save the whale.
Story planned! Tomorrow, start
Writing it – the easy part.