You’re reading quite the momentous blog post today; My first ever children’s book review! The Go-Away Bird is the brand new release by Julia Donaldson, who is pretty much a writing legend in our house (and in the general world: She was the 2011–2013 Children’s Laureate and has over 180 published works.) If you have children in your life and have ever read to them, chances are you’re acquainted with one of Julia’s creations: Her most well-known is The Gruffalo but other favourites of my son are Room on the Broom, Monkey Puzzle and The Paper Dolls.
Children’s picture books are special in that they will likely be re-read far, far more times than any other books in your life. Obsession is not even a strong enough word for when a child decides they like a certain book. For example: I love The Secret History by Donna Tartt, I’ve re-read it maybe five times, which I consider a lot. In the last three years I’ve read The Gruffalo hundreds of times. And that’s not an exaggeration. I cannot tell you how important it is for the reader to enjoy the book as much as the child, it makes all those repetitions so much easier!
By this point I’ve read a fair few children’s books and learnt what makes a great picture book. In my opinion, anyway, if they have these five elements, you’re onto a winner:
/ There must be a story. Sounds obvious, but it does baffle me how so many books I read to my son are simply nonsense, with no suggestion of a story. The reader in me is very frustrated when he takes a liking to one of these.
/ Rhyme is not essential but holds the attention of a child for longer. Plus, they are more likely to remember the words.
/ Repetition is great as they love to chant along. Repetition is great as they love to chant along.
/ Humour and wit (however subtle) makes re-reading so much more bearable for adults.
/ Beautiful illustrations will catch the eye of your child and give you something wonderful to look at as you read. Gorgeous covers are also more likely to be put on the front of the shelf in my son’s room, meaning he will ask to read them more.
So, did The Go-Away Bird hit this criteria? Yes, indeed. I read it to the intended audience – my three-year old son – and he was soon joining in with chanting, ‘go-away, go-away, go-away’ and the vibrant colours of the birds drew his attention. As with all the Julia Donaldson stories I’ve read, there is a moral message (about the importance of friendship), perfect rhymes and a story that has an actual plot, however simple. Her back-catalogue of brilliance sets the bar high and she has not let me down with this new book. I’ll be investing once it’s released so I can read it to my son again and again.
/ Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.
/ Published 7th March 2019 by PanMacmillan
/ Hardback 32 pages