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My daughter has amassed quite a collection of books despite her only being two and a half. I pick up her quite a lot second hand, my sister passes down books that her (older) children are finished with, and then she always gets books for Christmas and birthdays. This book 'Fancy Dress Farmyard' was given to her as a present at Christmas time this year and when I saw that it was by Nick Sharratt I was pretty confident it would be a hit with both my daughter and me. Having had it for over a month now I would say it is a book that was probably more suitable for my daughter from 18 months onwards although she still loves it, but I can imagine she will grow out of it sooner rather than later. That is no reflection on the quality of the book just the age of suitability. This is a quite a big book in comparison to many other books my daughter has and I like that it is a hardback book. The illustrations are big and colourful which is always a hit with children. There is a gentle rhyme for each page which makes it enjoyable to children and easy for them to listen to. There is a range of farm animals including the well known favourites: duck, pig, hen, donkey etc and each one has a fancy dress costume including an astronaut, a superhero and even a wizard. Behind each costume is the animal which children can guess by only seeing a little bit of them. There are clues in the rhyming text as well. My daughter at her age, was pretty quick at guessing the animal but for younger children this should encourage their imagination. Even though my daughter knew who was behind each costume it didn't distract from her enjoyment of the book. The final pages of the book are behind the barn - children have to open the barn doors and decide which costume they would like. My daughter always selects the astronaut. This isn't really the kind of book my daughter asks for at bedtime, instead its the kind of book we read during the day or I bring with me if we are going somewhere and I want a book that she can look through herself for a little to keep her busy. It is a colourful, eye catching book that does keep a child occupied as they study the picture and look through to see who is behind. It is a fun book rather than an educational, vocabularly extending book, and she loves it. All in all, this is another great book from Nick Sharratt who seems to know what children like, and create books that and should entice even the most reluctant of book fans.
Now my kids have reached the grand old ages of 4 and a half and 6 I was pretty sure that they were past flap books, but by the way they enthusiastically picked this at our last library visit, I was slightly proved wrong. This is a 2011 book written and illustrated by Nick Sharratt. Sharratt has worked previously with people like Julia Donaldson, as well as producing books on his own such as Hippo Has a Hat, and Chocolate Moose for Greedy Goose. There is something in his style that is reminiscent of Donaldson in that he likes to use rhyming text, and his books that I have read feature animals and lots of bold colourful illustrations which really seem to appeal to young children. Pairing this with flaps, he is onto a winner. This particular book reminds me of the others he has done as it it has the same almost square pages and is printed onto really thick paper that is ideal for younger children. Also, a key thing for this book is you are not dealing with flimsy flaps glued onto the page of text. Each flap is actually bound into the book and is just a shaped page covering an image on the page behind. So instead of a double page spread, you get one page of text, then a page with a fancy dress costume flap, which is then followed by an illustration of a farmyard animal that looks like a 'normal' animal that a child should recognise. When I say normal, I mean an illustrated cartoon animal, not a picture of an animal. For each animal's costume, there is firstly a paragraph of 4 lines of rhyming text. Each one starts with 'There's a party at the farmyard', before saying something about the party, such as they are all in fancy dress or there are balloons or tasty things to eat. There is then something about the particular costume you can see, such as the astronaut who goes to the moon. I found this book quite enjoyable as it is well written, and I feel there is a lot there to talk about with a child. There is description of the party and the costumes, so you can talk with your child about what they have done at parties or what they could dress up as, and then there is the vocabulary for the animals too. Because of the way it is presented, you are also having fun while you are reading through it with your child. I always find rhyming books really grab my children's attention and they find them really enjoyable. I also feel that they learn a lot about describing things and words that do rhyme when they read this sort of book, and that is a good thing when they get to school and have to start writing and describing things themselves. I would say that this book could be suitable for children from about 2 years old to round about my youngest son's age of 4. It might be ok to read this with slightly younger children if they are not too rough with the pages. My eldest was only 18 months old when he first got hold of some of Sharratt's other books, and while they got a bit crumpled they were firm favourites. The RRP on this book is £6.99. This is worth that, as it is something that would be read to death in my opinion as it is well known that young kids love repetition. It is published by Alison Green Books. I don't think you can go wrong at all with this sort of book for young children.