Emily Brown and the Thing by Cressida Cowell

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Emily Brown and the Thing by Cressida Cowell

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Fear of the dark turned on its head as Thing needs Emily Brown to stay with him so that he isn't alone in the dark. A marvellous book to help a child talk about its fears. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: October 2007
Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 978-1846166938

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Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Emily Brown and an old grey rabbit called Stanley. Emily Brown and Stanley were trying to get to sleep after a busy day. But a noise was keeping them awake. SPLISH! went the noise. SPLOSH! went the noise. It seemed to be coming from the window.

So starts another story about our feisty heroine, Emily Brown and her favourite toy, Stanley. It is, of course, not Emily, or even Stanley, who is afraid of the dark, but Thing.

The noise was coming from the window and when Emily looked there was Thing sitting on the window sill and large tears were dripping onto his pyjamas. Thing has lost his cuddly and he just can't sleep without his cuddly. Emily and Stanley must find it for him.

So, off they go into the Dark and Scary Wood, through the tangles and the treetops. They dodged the wolves and the trolls and finally found the cuddly high up in a terrible tree and it was returned to Thing, who promised to be quiet so that Emily and Stanley could sleep.

It's not to be though. Next there's a noise coming from the kitchen. Thing is in the fridge and he's hungry. His tummy is rumbling despite all that he's eaten and he must have his bedtime milk.

Once again Emily and Stanley go off in search of something for Thing. This time they brave the Wild and Whirling Wastes to bring back the bedtime snack and Thing promises to be quiet so that Emily and Stanley can sleep. But...

The Thing has a cough. It's a bad, persistent cough that simply won't go away and Thing needs his special green medicine from the Whiny Witches' Cavern.

I bet there isn't a parent reading this who isn't nodding and smiling. We've all been in and out of a child's room, bringing drinks or toys or tissues, soothing 'headaches' or, as in Thing's case an itchy leg. They're thinly-disguised pleas not to be left to face the dark on their own. And why not? The dark is a scary place to be on your own, who who-knows-what hiding in all sorts of impossible places.

Cressida Cowell neatly takes the problem and stands it on its head, as it's not the child who has the problem, but Thing. Thing, who is usually the frightening Thing is now the frightened, the one who needs to be soothed and humoured, gentled to the point where he is able to sleep, to be tucked in tightly with a hot-water bottle.

Oh, it's such a heart-warming story. You can't help but love the brave and fearless Emily Brown and the faithful Stanley. They're a bridge between the parent who will recognise all the bizarre excuses that a child will use and the child who would so love to be brave, but preferably only in the daylight hours. The book is a wonderful vehicle to encourage children to talk about their fears without actually having to say that it's them that are frightened. Best of all, no child could fail to love and feel sorry for Thing. Wonderful stuff.

The illustrations by Neal Layton are bold and anarchic, capturing the terror of the night and Thing's tears with equal sharpness. There's nothing namby-pamby about these illustrations - they're perfect for the job in hand.

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

For another book which turns the problem of fear of the dark on its head we can recommend Billy Monster's Daymare by Alan Durant.

Booklists.jpg Emily Brown and the Thing by Cressida Cowell is in the Top Ten Picture Books For Overcoming Bedtime Woes.
Buy Emily Brown and the Thing by Cressida Cowell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Emily Brown and the Thing by Cressida Cowell at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Emily Brown and the Thing by Cressida Cowell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Emily Brown and the Thing by Cressida Cowell at Amazon.com.


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