Claude in the City by Alex T Smith

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Claude in the City by Alex T Smith

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Fantastic illustrations that fit perfectly with this funny story. A wonderful book that I think grown ups will love as much as children!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: February 2011
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0340998991

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Claude is a sweet little dog who wears a beret and whose best friend is a sock called Sir Bobblysock. They live with Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes, and when Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes go out, Claude and Sir Bobblysock go out and have their own adventures which, in this book, involve capturing a thief in an art gallery and solving a medical mystery in the local hospital. Claude, who reminds me a little bit of Snoopy, is very endearing and it's amazing how much personality an old sock can have!

I loved everything about this book. As soon as I saw the cover I knew I wanted to read it, and it didn't disappoint me. The story is fun, a little bit wacky but not in a distracting way. It's simple enough for older pre-schoolers to enjoy as a shared book, silly enough for older children who can read it for themselves, and has enough going on for grown-ups to enjoy too. The illustrations work perfectly with the text. They have a retro feel, with the humans in the books styled in what feels like 1950's/1960's garb. The colouring is very simple, just shades of black, white and red, but it's very effective.

The pictures run throughout, which makes it a great book to share with younger children. They'll need to have some patience since it's longer than your usual picture book, but as the book contains two stories so you could break up your reading session if need be. My four year old sat quite happily for the whole thing, liking in particular Sir Bobblysock who she kept asking me about afterwards. There are lots of things to look at in the pictures. One of my favourite pictures is of Claude and Sir Bobblysock in the art gallery looking at sculptures, in particular one which is a bare bottom and described as very rude indeed complete with Claude's raised eyebrows.

In the second part of the story, when they go to the hospital, there is a full page which is just a picture of the other people in the waiting room. We spent some time wondering about all the different things that are wrong with them. There's also a moment in this part when Claude is left alone in the doctor's office whilst Sir Bobblysock is taken for some tests. Claude discovers some spare white coats in the office and decides to try one on. As soon as this happened my daughter sat with her eyes over her hands, scared to look because she had realised that he was about to be mistaken for a real doctor! I love it when books provoke reactions like this in children, (and just in case you're wondering, it all turns out okay in the end. Claude doesn't get into trouble, and he actually helps diagnose what's wrong with some of the patients!)

Claude himself is a wonderful little character. When we are introduced to him we read: Claude is a dog. Claude is a small dog. Claude is a small, plump dog. Claude is a small, plump dog who wears a beret and a lovely red jumper. Very simple, and yet alongside are the pictures of Claude modelling his red beret and jumper and he's suddenly alive as a character. The story isn't written as simplistically as this throughout, this is merely the introduction. But I like the set up of Claude as a character, how it creates the idea of Claude as a rather happy-go-lucky dog, going through life with his best friend Sir Bobblysock (who is a little bit more of a worrier!) Although the text continues in a slightly more complex style it's still easy enough that newly confident readers could read it by themselves without too much difficulty.

Since reading Claude I have made my husband read it too, told various friends that they have to go and read it too, and I have also stolen it from my daughter's bookshelf and put him on mine, since I believe he's going to be one of my favourites. I can't wait until his next adventure!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: You might also like to try Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell.

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Buy Claude in the City by Alex T Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Claude in the City by Alex T Smith at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Claude in the City by Alex T Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Claude in the City by Alex T Smith at


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