Dad's Dodgy Lodger; Talking Pictures
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This issue’s cover is from The Hutchinson Treasury of Children’s Poetry (cover illustration by Peter Weevers). Edited by Alison Sage (who also edited The Hutchinson Treasury of Children’s Literature), this sumptuous anthology is loosely divided into four sections corresponding to age starting with nursery rhymes and first poems through to poems for older children and classic poetry. Poems from such modern poets as Roger McGough, Ted Hughes, Wendy Cope and Maya Angelou sit alongside poems by Longfellow, Robert Louis Stevenson, Shelley and Shakespeare. The anthology is illustrated in full colour and black and white. Newly commissioned illustrations from, for example, Quentin Blake, Shirley Hughes and Nicola Bayley are included alongside illustrations by Randolph Caldecott, Jessie Willcox Smith and Kate Greenaway. With such a comprehensive range of poems for 2-11 year olds and upwards, this is a wonderful family book.
The first of these two new 'Jumbo Jets', Dad's Dodgy Lodger has mysterious goings on, robbers stuck in furry latex Easter Bunny bonnets and lively illustrations perfectly integrated with text, including the use of speech bubbles. It is an exciting story that will engage young readers totally.
Sophie, living with her hard-up single Dad, gets suspicious about his new 'French' lodger, Mini. When Sophie and her friend discover Mini spying and making secretive phonecalls, they suspect the worst and investigate further. Through wearing one of a number of furry rabbit masks, made by Mini and her Dad, Sophie becomes involved in a bungled robbery and wins first prize in the school's Easter Bonnet parade. Lots of fun.
Talitha Augusta Fortescue Fitz-Rowland in Talking Pictures is an immensely rich orphan, the last surviving Fitz-Rowland in the world, so she thinks, until she discovers an old letter pointing to the existence of other members of her family. Talitha begins some detective work by contacting the family solicitor but is helped enormously by two talking portraits of her paternal grandparents in the gallery. A mysterious photographer, who conveniently arrives at the house, turns out to be none other than a long lost relative who has returned from Australia.
An interesting idea involving family trees but it is just too confusing for its likely audience, despite the diagrams and monochrome wash illustrations. Some inaccuracies in the relationships described at the end of the book only serve to add to the confusion. (A first cousin once removed is described as an uncle and second cousins are referred to as cousins.) By this time, however, a lot of young readers may well have given up.