Wednesday 25 July 2012

Children's book review : Reach For The Stars / You Are What You Eat - Serge Bloch

I have to admit, when I was sent two titles by Serge Bloch to review, I'd never heard of him. However, having looked at them, I can guarantee I'll be looking out for any more that he has written or writes in the future. (Oooh I've just checked - there are also Butterflies In My Stomach and Other School Hazards, Snowed Under and Other Christmas Confusions and I Can't Wait. I've also discovered that he is the illustrator of the highly popular Max & Lili books which the girls are always getting out of the library here in France - that's why his drawings seemed familiar !) They're published by Sterling Children's Books but are just as appealing to grown-ups as kids. They have simple stories and short sentence structures but they also contain endless play-on-words and clever illustrations combining simple drawings and realistic (or real juxtaposed) objects. You can't help yourself, you keep grinning and thinking "very clever" !

The first book that we discovered was Reach For The Stars and Other Advice for Life's Journey.

It's full of tongue-in-cheek life lessons accompanied by delightful, almost childlike drawings of a boy and his dog. Some of the illustrations have given me great ideas for pictures to reproduce with the kids, such as this one with a piece of scrunched up paper as a mountain.

Using 3D objects (such as this ice cube) to enhance simple pen-and-ink drawings is another technique that I would love to explore further with the kids. The drawings and accompanying texts are very cute and whimsical so it is the perfect coffee-table book to dip into when you have a moment to idle away.

The second book, You Are What You Eat and Other Mealtime Hazards, is equally enchanting, sharing more day-to-day adventures of the little boy and his dog, this time packed with food-themed puns and expressions taken literally.

The blend of photography and line drawings is unique and works really well. I was not at all surprised to read that Serge Bloch has won a gold medal at the Society of Illustrators and created art for numerous adult and children’s books, as well as illustrating for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and Newsweek. I'll be showing these books to the art teacher at school when we go back - I'm sure he'll find some great inspiration for art projects to do with the kids.

It's also a great - and humorous - way of enriching your kids' vocabulary with fun expressions they may not have heard of before.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £5.99

You can see all of Serge Bloch's books on his Amazon page :

Reach For The Stars :

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Sterling (9 Jan 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402797591
ISBN-13: 978-1402797590
Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 15.4 x 0.6 cm

You Are What You Eat :

Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Sterling (7 Mar 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402797605
ISBN-13: 978-1402797606
Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 15.4 x 0.4 cm

Disclosure : I received review copies of the books.

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  1. I have added these to my wishlists - look like a great addition to my growing book collection!!

  2. I love the look of these. As you say, the use of 3d objects inserted into the pictures is very clever.
    I love books that are not the usual repetitive words, thse look as though they would certainly increase knowledge of old fashioned sayings that children might not hear on a day to day basis. Very good!

  3. Looks enjoyable for children and adults!

  4. another book we have never seen but looks great - the you are what you eat one looks fab!


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