10 Silly Children is a counting book with lots of silliness thrown in from debut picturebook maker Jon Lander. Before opening the book, readers are instructed to be exceedingly sensible and on no account to open the pull-out flaps – an exhortation guaranteed to invite rebellion!
Each double page spread shows a ‘sensible’ child or children doing ‘sensible’ things such as drawing, washing, cooking or gardening. Open the flap and a different scene is revealed – we find the two children bathing are in a mud bath spraying mud all over the bathroom, the eight children sensibly brushing their teeth are actually cleaning a crocodile’s teeth. We are told that even their dreams are silly, or perhaps they are simply delightfully inventive? One dreams about swimming with dolphins and another about sitting on the moon.
Children will enjoy imagining what might lurk behind each flap before opening them. Read the book again and observant readers will find clues as to what might be behind the flaps, for example the first child has her hands behind her back, what might she be holding? Why is there a blob of mud on the floor in image two?
The illustrations are very appealing and efforts have been made to be representative. The humour suggests a slightly older readership than the basic 1-10 counting framework would indicate. There are elements to engage adults too, for example with witty book titles on the shelves in one double page spread for example Ladders – a Long History.