Wednesday 17 April 2013

Calvin Innes children's books review

I have to admit, when I received a selection of Calvin Innes children's books through the post, I'd never heard of him. However, having discovered just how much pleasure the older Madhouse Mini-testers got from his illustrations and deliciously quirky stories, I'll certainly be looking out for him from now on.

The books that really caught their attention and had them squealing in delight were the Tiny Twisted Tales, which are very short, illustration-heavy stories that even the most reluctant of readers will enjoy discovering.

Each book in the collection features a rather strange but ultimately likeable character. We discovered Stuart the Bug Eating Man, Pale Henry and Jenny, who is an eight-year-old who loves hunting werewolves but hates pink and wearing frilly dresses.

The books are less than 100 pages long and each double page only has a small block of text, so it only takes about ten minutes to read the whole thing. In fact, it would be even quicker, if you didn't keep stopping to look at the quirky illustrations accompanying the text.

As well as being a lot of fun (I heard several delighted squeals of disgust when they were reading Stuart the Bug-Eating Man, in particular !), the books do have a sensible message behind them about not trying too hard to fit in to the mould and being yourself. Stuart doesn't give up eating bugs, he transforms it into his career by becoming a pest-removal worker and Pale Henry discoveres the joys of going outside, but still likes hiding himself away in the dusty attic at weekends. Finding the balance between compromise and staying true to yourslef is an important life-lesson for us all.

As well as the Tiny Twisted Tales, which are written and illustrated by Calvin Innes, Calvin also illustrates other people's books, including Gorgeous George. We were sent the wonderfully named Gorgeous George & The Giant Geriatric Generator and the deliciously naughty sense of humour is very similar to that found in the Tiny Twisted Tales. Here's a little extract to give you an idea that had the girls squealing in delighted disgust and running out to the kitchen read it to me ! : "Mr Swan always wore three jerseys and a cardigan, even in the summer, and in the winter he'd wear special gloves with the fingertips cut off them. George thought that this was so Mr Swan could keep his hands warm and still pick his nose, which was quite a good idea because when George wore gloves and picked his nose, the fluffy fingertips were always getting gummed up with bogies, the wool made his nose tickle and his mum usually went mad, shouting "I hope this snot comes off in the wash!". George always sniggered when he thought about his bogies swimming around in the same washing machine as his dad's favourite golf sweater." The blurb on the back of the book ends with : "Oh, and do not try the 'burning brown bag of poo prank' at home ! You have been warned !". The tone is well and truly set !

Gorgeous George & The Giant Geriatric Generator is a proper children's novel with a lot more text to read than the Tiny Twisted Tales. It's 276 pages long and, while many pages have illustrations to break up the text and enhance your enjoyment of the story, you do need to be a keen reader to feel at ease reading this one. You also need a slightly naughty sense of humour, which is why this appealed so much to the Madhouse Mini-testers (not to mention me !)

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Disclosure : I received some books in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

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