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The kiss that missed is a joyful story by David Melling and also illustrated brilliantly by him. It was first written in 2002 and published by Hodder Children's Books. It is available in hard back and paperback and had 32 colourful and funny pages. We bought this from a charity shop when my son saw the front cover of the knight on his horse and so glad we did.
The story is about a little prince whose father the king was so busy that he didn't have time to say goodnight properly to his son and whilst rushing around shouts Goodnight and blows his son at kiss while running by his bedroom door. But the kiss misses and bounces around the room before it escapes out of the window into the night. The prince tells the Queen who tells the King who then orders his loyal Knight to follow the kiss. Now the knight is not your typical knight, bravery and courage has definitely avoided this man which brings even more humour to the story. Over the next few pages it tells us how he can't even get on his horse properly and how he is scared of the dark forest but he follows the kiss with some very unusual twists and turns.
This is one of the funniest books that my children and I read. They absolutely love it even after the amount of times we have read it. The illustrations and words are hilarious and done brilliantly. When reading this book we were all laughing at the silly knight's antics to retrieve the kiss. When you turn the page the story takes unexpected twists, at one point it starts snowing, they sit on a mountain that turns into a dragon which turns out to be soppy once the kiss lands on it. The dopey horse caricatures are done really well. The drawings are just wonderful and just show Milling's imagination perfectly. I suppose that is the excellence you get from illustrating your own story. There is so much detail in each picture that my children are just searching all over the pages. The way the story is written is done with fast pace and excitement and is so easy to read aloud and has great energy.
As well as the colour and humour this book brings it also has an underlying moral for us parents (and children I guess). It shows us that you can never be too busy to make time to show our loved ones that we care and love them. It only takes a few minutes for a kiss and cuddle! Melling really knows how to create an aroma of magic and how to keep his audience captive with the hanging sentences on each page that in turn shows up something you would not have anticipated!
This book is part of a set of three books which include Good Knight Sleep Tight and The Three wishes which also include the dopey knight and his faithful horse. I will definitely look out for these. I undoubtedly recommend this book for your toddler or even primary school age children as it is an absolute delight to read.
Looking through a list of David Melling's books on Amazon, it is striking that they all have five-star ratings. I'm surprised that I have never come across any of them before, but having read 'The Kiss that Missed' I will certainly be on the lookout for the others. Melling is both author and illustrator of this delightful picture book. He began his career as an illustrator and then progressed to writing his own stories that were inspired by his drawings.
The story centres around a goodnight kiss that is blown by a busy king (on his way to have a bath) to his young son. The kiss unfortunately misses the little prince and bounces out of the open window. The king orders his loyal knight to go in search of the kiss, so the knight mounts his trusty horse and they gallop off to the wild wood. This is a pretty scary place when it is dark, and our knight does not seem to be the bravest of young men. Luckily, the royal kiss comes floating by and calms all the wild creatures down. They settle down to sleep, so the knight and his horse decide to have a seat on what they think is an old tree trunk. They soon discover that they have in fact sat on a dragon who rises up and decides that the knight and the horse would make a good breakfast. Just in time, the kiss floats by again and makes the dragon sneeze. The knight and dragon seize their chance to escape, but the dragon of course is now utterly calm. He picks them up, kisses them goodnight and takes them back to the castle. The story ends peacefully and happily.
One unusual aspect of this picture book is that the text sometimes appears on a white background independent of any pictures, and sometimes it is superimposed on a whole-page illustration. I particularly like the fact that some phrases appear in a larger font than others, and one phrase is in bold type. One or two words, such as 'sneezed!' are in a completely different font. It seems to me that, because Melling is primarily an illustrator, he puts more emphasis on the visual aspect of the text than other writers do. I find this very effective.
The illustrations took Melling six months to complete, and that is not hard to believe. From the skinny, dragon-like creature on the first page of text that gives the impression of an illuminated manuscript to the final double-page spread of a happy family scene with the enormous dragon curling around, this is a feast for your eyes. The passage of the kiss is shown by a curling gold thread, and the wild creatures can be either scary or amusing. We see a close-up of the dragon's face with the knight and the horse reflected in the pupils of his eyes, as well as panoramas of the wild wood at night where snowflakes fill the air and the twigs on the branches of the trees resemble fingers reaching out to grab passers-by.
This is of course an ideal bedtime story, as it ends on such a tranquil note and shows the prince tucked up in bed. There is a wise message for parents here, about not being in too much of a hurry but finding time to spend with their children. I would say that three to six would be a suitable age range for this story. Confident five- to seven-year-olds would probably enjoy having a go at reading it for themselves, although I don't feel that it was written with this intention. A fair amount of descriptive language is used, and phrases such as 'galloped off it hot pursuit' are not the easiest for emergent readers to tackle.
For such a beautiful and enjoyable book, I don't think anyone will feel that £4.02 is a lot to ask. If you haven't read any of Melling's books aloud to your children before, I think you and they are missing out. I certainly am going to keep an eye out for his other story books, and I would recommend them to all parents of young children.
The Kiss that Missed
by David Melling
Barron's Educational Series
Paperback, 32 pages
I bought this book a couple of months ago on the basis of a positive Dooyoo review (from Allybally) as part of my daughter's second birthday present. Having read it hundreds of thousands of times since (well it seems like it at least!), it is now my turn to write a positive review of this excellent book.
David Melling is a well-established children's book illustrator and has an impressive range of appealing looking children's books to his name (most of which are now on my Amazon wishlist). He has written three books about the amusing adventures of a knight and his horse; The Kiss That Missed, The Three Wishes and Good Knight Sleep Tight and I have my fingers tightly crossed that he writes some more, as they do the impossible- appeal to both my daughter and myself.
The busy king blows a goodnight kiss at his young son but it misses and flies out of the window. He orders his faithful but foolish knight to ride after it (it rather handily sparkles and leaves a golden trail behind it) and he wanders into the wild woods where he encounters a rather large green dragon, some scary bears and very hungry wolves. Will they escape the wild woods? Recapture the kiss and avoid being eaten?
Thankfully no-one gets hurt and it all ends well and it is a fantastic, toddler version of the scarier and more adventurous dragon/knights stories written for older children and adults. It is humourously told in the most marvellous language, certainly a cut above some of the dreary and repetitive books I have read to my daughter; forcing you to adopt a 'Jackanory' tone when reading it aloud! Starting with the not so traditional 'Once upon a Tuesday', the tone is set from the beginning and the (relatively limited) text is just the right combination of rhyme, repetition, humour and imaginative language not usually seen in children's books for this age group. My daughter loves it when the dragon's eyes 'leered greedily' at the knight and I love to overact when the knight shouts 'EEK!' or the dragon sneezes. It also has a wonderful ending that is just right for a bedtime book and puts my daughter in the mood for sleeping, now she requests a goodnight kiss and another 'kiss that missed' which I have to pretend to blow out of her window and call out to the knight to follow! I thought it was fantastic the way some of the more dramatic sentences continued over the page, keeping interest and prolonging some of the excitement and suspense even after the 1000th read. At the same time it treads just the right balance between scary and bland, as dribbly-jawed wolves and a dragon with greedy eyes might scare some young children if it weren't for the combination of the humourous language, softened illustrations and the amusing story which sees everything simply resolved by the missing kiss.
The excellent text is complemented by the smashing illustrations which are gentle and humourous, as well as being extremely well drawn. Each double page is laid out in a different style, from inset boxes to the double page being divided into three. The illustrations are extremely bright and colourful and offer a great deal to look at as you read the story. From the king in his shower cap and bright pink towel, to the knight with his split trousers mounting his horse backwards the pictures give parents something to chuckle at as well as appealing to the little ones. My favourite picture is a close up of the dragon's face that covers a double page with the text following the line of the nostrils; very cleverly done and super to read. There are little additional details everywhere that you might not notice in the first few reads, keeping the book fresh and making it even more interesting.
After reading this to my daughter a couple of times I added the others in this series to my Amazon wishlist and bought them as soon as I could. My daughter is a big fan of books and gets to choose four to be read before she goes to bed each night; not only does this book make it onto her chosen pile 5 nights out of 7 but its not one I ever try and talk her out of (like some others I might mention!). There is a lot of pap out there in the world of children's books and this simple, funny tale of a knight and a dragon really set the benchmark for me, against which I measure other children's books for my daughter. In many places the text and illustrations reminded me of old fashioned storybooks and medieval illustrations, so it is clear that Melling drew his inspiration from many different sources, something I was very excited to see. My husband likes it as it redresses some of the gender imbalance in children's books by making it the father's kiss that flies out of the window and has the power to tame all the scary creatures, something that combined with the humour would make it likely to appeal more to boys than a book about love and cuddles (Guess How Much I Love You has to be the marmite book of the parenting world, you either love it or loathe it-I am the latter!). The underlying message is very soppy and warm; the power of love and how it can tame even the wildest beasts but it isn't overemphasised or overstated, its just a corollary to a wonderful book about knights and dragons.
It seems strange to be so effusive about something essentially for a very young child, but this book for me truly is a gem and meets all the criteria for a truly outstanding children's book.
I would imagine a child of 2+ would enjoy this book, possibly up to 5 or 6 years old, so I am looking forward to lots more bedtime repetition!
***Price and ISBN***
RRP is £5.99
Amazon has it from £3.87 new and £1.31 used and there are four more complementary reviews on the site.
Author/Illustrator: David Melling
Publisher:Hodder Children's Books
Publish Date: 2003
Age Suitability: 3-6 (although Amazon says 9-12???)
Price: RRP £ 5.99 I got mine for £7.99 as part of a 3-4-2 deal at Waterstones as it included a CD reading of the story by The Fast Show and Harry Potter actor, Mark Williams.
***Who is David Melling***
David Melling, an English writer and illustrator, began his career illustrating children's book in 1993. He not only works on children's books but also a number of reference books.
Today, Melling not only illustrates - he has also written several successful children's picture books including the sequel to The Kiss that Missed - Good Knight Sleep Tight, Jack Frost, Just Like My Dad and The Ghost Library.
***What is it all about***
This is the story of a young Prince who's busy father the king doesn't have time to come in and say goodnight properly and instead, blows him a kiss as he rushes down the hallway outside the Prince's bedroom. Much to the Prince's horror, the kiss misses and flies out the window instead of landing softly on his cheek.
In order to calm down the distraught Prince, the royal knight, who is not overly bright or overly brave, is sent out into the darkness to find the kiss and bring it back.
What the Knight finds as he travels deep into the forest on the trail of said kiss marks the beginning of the adventure with unexpected twists to be found at the turn of each page.
***What I thought of the story***
My son chose this book himself. Being a typical two and a half year old boy he has a fascination with Pirates and monsters, firemen and dinosaurs but nothing compares to dragons and hero knights on white horses.
I read it with my son the first night we bought it and both of us laughed almost from beginning to end.
It has everything any toddler could want - humour, a silly horse and his even sillier companion the knight, scary shadows in the dark forest and a dragon which turns into a big softy just as you expect it to turn on our hero ferociously.
I was impressed not only with the great imagination of the story but also how touching it was. Underneath the adventures that kids love to read about, of which there were plenty, there was a lovely, touching moral to the story and a lesson to be learned almost more by parents than by kids. It is so important that we make time, no matter how busy we are to spend with our children. The Prince, like our own little ones appreciate and depend on the small things like a kiss goodnight so much more than we often know.
The whole idea of a kiss missing and having to be chased is unique and Melling brings the lovely story to life through simply written, fantastically descriptive and almost poetic text with a sprinkling of the ridiculous.
***What I thought of the illustrations***
I have said before, I think an author who illustrates his own stories is on to a winner. No one can put imagery to a writer's vision exactly as he sees the story better than he or she can themselves.
Meller's pictures are vivid and brightly coloured giving your children loads to look at as you read with them. He uses a cartoon style which matches the humour of the story. The characters, animals included have all been given terrifically animated faces full of expression. The dragon who the good Knight meets up with along his way is particularly adorable. Far from being a fierce fire-breathing, people eating monstrosity, he looks like a goofy creature whose brain is far too small to control his hulking body. His face lights up with inquisitiveness and is totally endearing.
Not only do the illustrations help the reader to identify with the characters, they also tell the story almost on their own. With each page that you turn you are faced with a new tableau which sets up the scene exactly as it is being told.
***What I thought of the audio cd***
Mark Williams is simply a funny man. He is funny to watch and equally funny to listen to. He lends his dopiness to the characters perfectly and I found myself listen to it thinking it was exactly as I heard the story in my head.
There are two versions of the story on the CD. The first is a reading accompanied by all the relevant sound effects and the second is meant to accompany the book with signals throughout indicating when the pages should be turned.
Having the audio cd helps your kids to feel a part of the story allowing them to get caught up in it simply by listening. It is a fantastic thing to have and both Kyle and I enjoyed it. Having said that, I quite like Kyle to be able to create his own idea of the story through his own imaginations instead of having it handed to him, so it is for occasional use only and certainly wouldn't replace bedtime stories.
This is a quirky, imaginative, funny, sweet story with illustrations to match. Without a doubt it gets a thumbs up from both Kyle and I. I will be looking for Good Knight Sleep Tight as a follow-up.
It's funny and original and an absolute delight to read aloud - a perfect bedtime read.