Friday, 23 August 2013

Dixie O' Day

'Dixie O'Day: In the Fast Lane' written by Shirley Hughes and illustrated by Clara Vulliamy.

Honestly, if you have any interest in children's books at all, I shouldn't need to write any more than that in this review. You should've already turned away from the screen, grabbed your wallet and keys and headed out the door to your nearest bookshop. In your pyjamas is fine in this case. Scoot.

Because a new book by Shirley Hughes AND Clara Vulliamy? Their first mother/daughter collaboration? Their first early chapter book? Come ON you can't tell me that's not jiggle-up-and-down-smiley, wave-small-flags, do-special-happy-dance-while-juggling-chocolate-muffins-in-the-sunshine kind of news?

I'm not alone in being excited. Dapper driver dog Dixie and his best pal Percy's first adventure has already been selected as Children's Book of the Week by the Sunday Times and (ooo escalation) Book of the Month by Waterstones. There's a bit of a buzz there is. I was practically camped by my letterbox whilst I waited for my copy to arrive.

But y'know buzz shmuzz, Sunday Times Shmunday Shtimes, Waterstones Shmaterstones...there's only one opinion that counts in this house and many are the mighty who have supplicated before him and been spurned.
I speak of course of the exacting standards of Fellow Reviewer Eddie, who like a Roman Emperor, will thumb up or thumb down a book with scant regard for reputation or social nicety.

My review of 'In the Fast Lane' is that is a little gem. A gorgeous, small but chunky hardback; just the right size for the new independent readers it's designed for. Vintage vehicles, plentiful biscuits and ice cream sundaes, a Proper baddy (never trust a woman who has a specially designed motoring hat) and a race of twists, turns and escaped sheep make for pages that demand to be turned. This book will make you smile; it bubbles with the joy and warmth of its makers. Never have the words 'made with love' seemed more appropriate.

And Eddie's opinion? Well, when Eddie likes a book there's only one thing he's going to do. Read it, and read it continuously. Out loud from start to finish with voices and brooking no interruptions. On about his third go round, I put the camera on and filmed him surreptitiously and I want to give you a little snippet of his pleasure in the book here. He's mid flow when he turns the page and finds some illustrations that bring him up short and demand his attention. It's a nice little vignette of how beautifully text and pictures can weave together a complete, immersive reading experience. Author, illustrator and reader are ALL in perfect harmony.

Look! A cow in a motorcycle sidecar! Ain't life grand?
'Dixie O'Day, In the Fast Lane' written by Shirley Hughes, illustrated by Clara Vulliamy, pub. The Bodley Head, isbn 978-1-782-30012-0

1 comment:

  1. How gorgeous. I am definitely going to get this book - but I wish I had a little Eddie to read it to me!