I am currently doing some research for a project I am working on. This involves reading children’s books. I’m not going to complain.
The problem with reading children’s books is that, while I am a good judge of what I like, what impresses me, I don’t know what impresses children so I’m going to see if I can do a series of two stage book reviews; one review by me and one by my bookworm 9 year old, Daniel.
Our first joint venture is Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street Ghost by Kjartan Poskitt, illustrated by David Tazzyman.
First let me share with you what the book has to say about itself.
“It was a dark and stormy night and someone or SOMETHING was ringing the bell in the school clock tower! It got worse when we saw a horrible face glowing in the window EEEKY FREAK! But there’s no such thing as ghosts… or is there?
“There was only one way to find out. We all spent a night in the school hall keeping watch, and that’s when things got even stranger… WOOOO!”
Daniel gave the book an impressive 8/10
Summary: Agatha is really excited when her school decides to do something about the non-stop donging bell but when a green face is seen glowing in the window and they all camp out at school, things are getting over exciting…
Age recommendation: I would recommend this book to 5-8 year olds as it is really funny as well as scary and exciting.
What I liked about it: my favourite bit was when Tony the Tortoise ate Fishpopz and scared Gwendoline. I also liked it when they camped out at school and when Agatha and her friends had a midnight picnic in the street. I liked the illustrations too.
What I didn’t like about it: I didn’t like that there were so many things said in brackets.
Conclusion: I liked this book and I think that you should read it.
Now it’s my turn:
I give this book a more modest 4/10
What I liked about this book: my favourite part was the illustrations; they are scruffy, line drawings, without much shading, which come across as accessible for children to imitate but they portray nuances of emotion effectively and contain plenty of detail. I also liked the sense of timing, for example when Agatha is listening to the irregular pealing of the bell with different sized paragraphs of thought in between.
What I didn’t like: I have to agree with Daniel on the overuse of brackets; it was excessive even when the author wasn’t making a joke out of it. There was to much description in the book, especially the kind with made up words. I don’t like books where adults are made out to be stupid; I don’t think it’s necessary to play down the intelligence of adults in order to create strong young characters. Finally, I don’t feel a child would learn anything from reading this book; yes, they would be entertained but there is no advanced language to take them through; no unusual situation for them to experience.
Conclusion: it’s not a bad book, it’s just not a good one.