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I am always on the look out for new books for my daughter (and myself of course) and as she is fond of lift the flap books this one caught my eye last time I was browsing Amazon. I had not come across the author before but it was on special offer so I duly ordered it and waited impatiently for it to arrive (my postman must hate me, I must give him a hernia everytime he delivers!).
I pulled it out of its packaging and discovered an absolute gem that I have to share!
It is a lift the flap fairy tale book, containing the stories of the Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk and the Billy Goats Gruff written and illustrated by Nick Sharratt and Stephen Tucker.
Nick Sharratt has illustrated the Jacqueline Wilson books and the Daisy series, as well as an impressive number of other books and book covers, so the name and the drawing style may be familiar to anyone who watches Tracey Beaker or has an older child interested in these books. He has brightened and simplified his style for these books so they are suitable and appealing for this younger age range, so whilst the style is recognisable it isnt so 'Tracy Beakerish'. Stephen Tucker seems to have only worked with Nick Sharratt and together they have also produced a series of books for younger children (12 months plus) about everyday life.
The book is slightly larger than usual (about 10 inches by 10 inches) with a hard, thick, shiny cardboard cover. The cover is blue with yellow stars and three bright, simple and friendly stylised cartoons on the front. Very appealing both to myself and to my daughter who clammered for it immediately. We sat down on the sofa and discovered that it is the perfect size for sharing in this way, my daughter had enough so that she could see the pictures and interact and I could see all of the words and could easily help her out when she needed it.
Each story is about ten double pages long, just right for my daughter's attention span and there are two verse stanzas of four lines each on each double page. The verses are fresh and modern, quite amusing in parts and tell the story very effectively. Here is an example from the Three Little Pigs:
'He chased the piggies down the lane,
And would have caught them, but.....
Their brother shouted,
"In here, quick"
Then slammed the front door shut.
"Now I've got you" laughed the wolf.
"It wont take very long
To blow this little house down, too!"
But this time he was wrong"
The pictures are simple and bright without too much detail on each page. There is still plenty to discuss though e.g finding and counting all the flowers, discussing the really very vibrant drawings. It
is also very easy to engage actively with the story, my daughter likes to pretend to blow the house down whilst opening the relevant flap, to find Jack's hiding place and to discover which goat-based meal the troll is dreaming of.
The flaps were a surprise to me, I am used to the simple tab style flaps, but the technique used here (especially for the larger flaps) is to make the supporting bits part of the picture, so the whole net is stuck down on to the page and the flaps just folded over- hope that is clear.
They are made from sturdy paper like the pages and are beautifully cut, coloured and shaped to illustrate the story. There is a nice combination of big flaps and little ones e.g slugs in cabbages, cutlery in the troll's pocket. There are between one and three flaps on every page, enough to get children interested, but not so many you have to spend an hour lifting and discussing the pictures underneath.
A lovely touch is that each piggy house in the story of the Three Pigs is 'built' and 'blown down' with the flaps in a different way e.g. horizontally, vertically and the stick house even disintegrates into three different pieces. We did find one of the flaps was too big, so it automatically 'flapped over'when you open the page and a couple of them are small enough to easily stay open, but this is a very minor complaint given the enormous pleasure this book has given us.
The last page of every story is a 3D scene on one half of the double page (instead of the flaps), with the wolf falling into the cauldron (fireplace is 3D), giant falling into the compost heap (his legs and the compost heap are 3D) and the troll falling into the water (the troll is 3D).
It really brings the story to a satisfying and amusing end...and a mark of the quality of this book is that they have printed the picture onto both sides of the 3D section, so even though its really hard to see the back of the image, if you make the effort the page is not just blank.
We particularly love this book, it has been a permanent fixture on the sofa since it arrived and my daughter is always asking if she can 'have the pigs' book. You can thoroughly enjoy this book without having to read the verse, making it suitable as a book to share and enjoy with children of 12 months plus (with parental supervision for the flaps). I can see children up to the age of 4 or 5 enjoying this book on their own or with a parent.
All of these stories are available individually as well for £4.99 each (based on Amazon prices), so this collection at RRP 10.99 offers a considerable saving. I paid £6.59 for my copy as part of an Amazon special offer and I noted in the course of research I discovered that they are selling it now for £5.49 new (£4.66 best offer on Amazon marketplace), which is incredibly annoying!
There is another collection of three fairy tales in this series- Cinderella and Other Fairy Tales, which includes Goldilocks, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. This one has a longer wait from Amazon at 4 to 6 weeks, needless to say we have it on order. It is also more
expensive at £7.25 (same on Marketplace). They are offering them both as Perfect Partners for £12.74, a good saving in my opinion.
ISBN for the Cinderella collection-1405052384
This fantastic collection features three of Nick Sharratt and Stephen Tucker's hugely successful Lift-the-Flap Fairy Tales: The Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk and The Three Billy Goats Gruff. These well-loved stories are retold in lively, witty verse accompanied by quirky illustrations and clever flaps. Using sturdy card, this book is tailor-made to be read again and again by all young children, from toddlers to school children.