Claude All at Sea by Alex T Smith

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Claude All at Sea by Alex T Smith

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Z J Cookson
Reviewed by Z J Cookson
Summary: Deliciously silly in every way, it’s a delight to finally meet Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock in a picture book.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: June 2015
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1444903676

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Claude is a small dog who likes wearing a beret and a lovely red jumper. He lives with Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes and his best friend is a stripy sock called Sir Bobblysock.

Claude has been painting so now he needs a bath. Unfortunately, Claude leaves the taps running and the water causes a wave so huge that he’s swept down the stairs, along the street and into the deep blue sea. Sailing the ocean in a bathtub is stonking good fun until Claude and Sir Bobblysock are gobbled up by a gigantic sea monster called Nigel. Luckily Claude has a whole assortment of useful items stored in his beret. But is there one that can help them escape?

Hopefully, this brief summary is enough to give you a good indication of the tone of this story. It is deliciously silly in every way from the characters to the plot. Children will love the strange things that Claude keeps under his beret (which, like the things in Mary Poppins’ carpetbag, would, of course, be impossible to fit in). Adults will enjoy the stylised language and who can resist a spotted sea monster called Nigel? I especially adored the whole page of warning signs including slogans such as ‘Watch out Nigel’s About!’ Claude and Sir Bobblysock are, of course, not new. They’re best known as the characters of Alex T Smith’s hugely successful series of chapter books for young readers. It is, however, a real joy to find them in their first picture book adventure. (There’s a helpful, fully-illustrated, 3-page introduction to the characters before the title page for those who haven’t met Claude before).

I was a little dubious whether the Claude concept would translate well for a younger audience but it works perfectly. The story might be totally nonsensical but there IS a story with a clear beginning, middle and end and it’s well structured to keep the reader turning those pages. In the context of a world where ‘anything goes’ (think Lewis Carol or Edward Lear), the story is totally plausible with a good satisfying conclusion (no spoilers, you’ll have to read the book to find out more).

The illustrations are very stylised with limited colours (mostly red, some blue and a little yellow) but instantly appealing with lots of texture. While many of the pictures are instantly striking, they also contain lots of detail that will appeal to children and adults alike. I particularly liked the hat and bow tie that Nigel wears. (Yes, you may already have guessed, Nigel IS my favourite character in the book!) The text is often integrated into the pictures (the advantage of the author also being the illustrator) and the use of large and gigantic words adds to the flow. Children are likely to love this, relishing the opportunity to shout out the large words.

Overall this is a picture book not to be missed and I suspect existing fans of Claude’s adventures will be as keen to get hold of a copy as the traditional picture book audience. We also loved Claude: Lights! Camera! Action! by Alex T Smith If you enjoyed this, you might want to check out the Claude stories for older readers – try Claude in the City and Claude Going for Gold!. Or, for another, slightly wacky, picture book why not try Aerodynamics of biscuits by Clare Helen Walsh and Sophia Touliatou.

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Buy Claude All at Sea by Alex T Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Claude All at Sea by Alex T Smith at


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