Mrs. Wobble the Waitress and Mr. Biff the Boxer ¦ Mrs. Plug the Plumber and Mr. Cosmo the Conjuror ¦ Miss Jump the Jockey and Master Salt the Sailor's Son
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Happy Families is a new series of easy-to-read stories for those just able to read on their own. With most of the books at this level originating in the States, it is good to see British publishers producing their own material. All the stories are written by Allan Ahlberg who seeming preoccupation with the supposed limitations of potential readers has resulted in a slightly stilted style: 'The children did not like to see their mother cry. It made them cry. It made their father cry too,' "'He will biff him," said Betty Biff.' "'Now I cannot ride in the race," he said.' Throughout the series there is an undue avoidance of contractions which destroys the natural flow of the text and does NOT make for easier reading.
Of the six Mrs. Plug the Plumber , in which quick-witted Mrs. P. scares the pants off a would-be footpad and is rewarded with a trip round the world, Mr. Biff the Boxer who thanks to the efforts of his family, ends up fighting fit for the charity match, and Mrs. Wobble the Waitress, whose clumsiness in turned to advantage, seem to me the best stories. Interestingly, the latter two are illustrated by Janet Ahlberg. The other three, in spite of lively, amusing illustrations (and a guest appearance of What-a-Mess, immediately spotted by my children), do not quite take off as real stories. Despite this, the length of the books (24 pages) and the cartoon-like pictures make them highly attractive to readers at the 'in-between' stage and well worth buying.