My Funny Family Gets Funnier by Chris Higgins and Lee Wildish
|My Funny Family Gets Funnier by Chris Higgins and Lee Wildish|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: Hilary Hawkes|
|Summary: A fun story about the quirky and entertaining goings-on in nine year old Mattie's big and loving family. Just right as an introduction to short chapter-book style stories.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 160||Date: November 2015|
|Publisher: Hodder Children's Books|
|External links: [www.chrishigginsthatsme.com Author's website]|
Mattie is nine years old and the second child in a wonderfully big and loving family, where all sorts of very funny things are prone to happen. Like the day Uncle Vez's brother and his wife, Uncle Bruce and Aunty Sheila (not their real names!) turn up on the doorstep. They're visiting from their home in Australia and it isn't long before they're causing quite a stir in the Butterfield household – and beyond.
Mattie, her five brothers and sisters, Mum and Dad, Uncle Vez, who lives with them (thank goodness they've got two houses knocked into one), Jellico the dog and Hiccup the rabbit, all love the visitors. Mattie likes their accents that make sentences go up at the end, their unusual words for things (she has to start a special vocabulary list) and best of all she loves Aunty Sheila's damper (yummy dessert). Then their visit to Mattie's class is a big hit too and everyone enjoys learning about Australia. But… whatever is up with Grandma? Something has to be causing her to be so miffed about their visit.
This is a gorgeous story about relationships and family love against a background of lots of hectic and funny happenings and all told from the innocent and observant perspective of nine year old Mattie. At first I thought it might be about how embarrassing Mattie finds her family – especially the grown-ups – because what child doesn't find his/her family an embarrassment at times? But, no, there is a lovely acceptance and lots of love for each other in this story. I can see young readers identifying with Mattie's thoughts and excitement over Uncle Bruce's and Aunty Sheila's visit. All those fantastic presents for everyone, their tales of adventure and the amazing pudding – not to mention the admiration of the whole school. It almost feels like a kind of Christmas as the visitors bring so much fun. It's easy to see how the excitement could get out of hand and cause usual boring routines to go out the window – and, of course, for some people to feel a little miffed, left out or… jealous even.
The story has such a gentle, warm and secure tone to it. I love the part where Mattie all tucked up in bed ready for sleep, is aware of the grown-ups' chatting and how this makes her feel all safe. Like all children Mattie has worries and these are often caused by things she notices but doesn't understand. For example, is Grandma about to die because she suddenly looks really old and has to lean on Granddad? I love the way Mum soon helps her understand and feel better about all that in her it-will-be-alright reassuring way that mums (and dads) have.
Mattie is an observant little girl - children do tend to notice more about people and their reactions than we sometimes give them credit for... Mattie's puzzlement over Grandma's grumpiness about Aunty Sheila's baking is understandable. And when Mum explains that even grown-ups can feel put-out and jealous at times she works out, all on her own, that Grandma probably just needs extra hugs and telling that she is loved far more than anyone's extraordinary puddings.
I felt the characters were all so believable – a wonderful mixture with their different personalities, likes and dislikes. What shines through is their love for each other – there seems to be not just room for all these people in this extra-large house, but room for everyone's individuality too: a wonderful message for children about tolerance, kindness and accepting each others' differences. There is another lovely message woven into this story too about expressing feelings and emotions in different ways. The family are very sad when Uncle Bruce and Aunty Sheila's visit comes to an end. More than that, at least one person is devastated. And there's lots of crossness, wanting to be left alone and moaning which is, of course, just how sadness and disappointment can come across can't it?
The cover and interior illustrations are adorable and complement the story perfectly. I love the hat with the corks around the brim at the start of each new chapter. The back cover includes images of the other titles in this series so, if your young reader loved this one, there are others in the My Funny Family stories about the Butterfields. The 26 short chapters, each just a few pages long, make the book ideal for children moving from being emerging readers to independent readers of slightly longer books. And as for the language and sentence length they are just right with a few more challenging words to stretch vocabulary knowledge. It would also be a fun story to read to children around five to eight years at home or in the classroom too.
Thank you to the publisher for supplying a copy for review.
Another in the same series is My Funny Family On Holiday.
You can read more book reviews or buy My Funny Family Gets Funnier by Chris Higgins and Lee Wildish at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy My Funny Family Gets Funnier by Chris Higgins and Lee Wildish at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.