Last time I reviewed something created by the people at Anorak (it was their Food Is Fun book, which I reviewed here, but I've also reviewed their Happy Mag for Kids here and their activity book here), I called them Lovable Loons ! This time, I'll have to call them Nostalgic Nutters because as soon as I saw their book, it reminded me of the Little Golden Books I used to read when I was a kid in the seventies (my favourite of which was called The Bouncy Baby Bunny !).
The latest Anorak offering is a hardbook children's storybook, called The Gardens of Mayland. They explain : "The Gardens of Mayland is no ordinary garden. The flowers in The Gardens of Mayland are no ordinary flowers. They talk. Sometimes at you. You will meet Terrified Turquoise, Bellowing Brown, Prattling Pink, Rude Ruby and many others."
The cover and format of the book remind me of my childhood reading, but so do the pictures and psychedelic, retro-style colours and illustrations inside. Parents and grandparents will love reading it and looking at the pictures because of this vintage feel.
But what do today's kids make of it ? Well, the first time we read it, 6-year-old Juliette complained that "nothing happened" and "there wasn't a story". 9-year-old Sophie pointed out that it's like the first pages of a Christmas annual which introduce you to all the characters before they go on to appear in bigger stories and activities.
But the second time we read it, they couldn't help but giggle at the silly voices I used to to read the texts, and you can follow on with some imaginative roleplay by asking them to carry on, making up things that the different flowers would say in-keeping with their personality. The funniest one is the angry one because the girls loved ranting and raving about everyday childish things. A bit of encouragement and you'll all be dissolving into fits of giggles at bedtime.
It's also great for leading on to a discussion about different personalities and which pupils and teachers at school are most like each of the flowers. Sophie told me about some nasty things some of the kids have said to her at school, a topic she usually doesn't like to go into, and we had great fun taking the mickey out of the bullies, likening them to flowers in the book and dedramatising the whole thing.
As usual, Anorak have come up with a kids book which is light-hearted and silly on the surface but which can lead kids to deeper understanding of themselves, their personalities and the world around them. It's not cheap, but we have had lots of giggles and great discussions which are things you can't put a price on.
And, judging by Pierre, the illustrations are even very entertaining upside down !
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £6.99
for more information : http://shop.anorak-magazine.co.uk/product/the-gardens-of-mayland
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