The Toucan Brothers by Tor Freeman

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The Toucan Brothers by Tor Freeman

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: Non-stop laughs with this beautifully illustrated story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: June 2013
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1447218630

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I hate to mention illustrations before mentioning the story with a children's book, but the illustrations are clearly the first thing you will notice with the book. My children, drawn by the illustrations, had this pulled out of the box of books it came in and were sitting down reading it before I could even sort through the rest. As soon as I saw this, I thought of Richard Scarry. The illustrations are highly reminiscent of Scarry's work, but if anything these are bolder, brighter and busier. If you have a child who is a visual learner, or who needs plenty of visual cues when reading, this book is definitely one you want to take a closer look at. The expressions on the characters faces are perfect and each page literally seems to come to life with so many activities going on.

This book has many elements of a good comic book as well. The illustrations do a very good job of telling the story on their own and a child could get a fairly good grasp of the story by looking at the pictures alone. This means that a new reader will not be lost if they find a few of the more challenging words a bit too difficult. If you have a bit of time to pass you could spend ages taking turns choosing something for the children to find in the pictures. It is obvious that the illustrator really took her time with these pictures, adding all sorts of extra details and these do add to the enjoyment of the book. I am not all surprised to learn that she has been awarded a very prestigious prize for illustration (The Sendak Fellowship).

This is a fun story about two toucan brothers (who bear enough resemblance to penguins to make this a sure hit with any penguin-mad child). The brothers are plumbers and do a good a job. But when a naughty dog comes to town and undercuts their prices it looks like the plumbers may be out of a job - that is until everything the dog fixed begins to break again at near enough the same time with very comic results. This story is told in rhyming verse, which has a very natural and uncontrived flow to it. I do especially value a good rhyming text as the ability to recognise rhyme is one of the first steps to emergent literacy. Reading rhyming stories is one of the very best things a parent can do to help their child become a reader.

My oldest never requests picture books anymore, but despite having read this himself when it first arrived, he obviously wanted to hear me read it as well. I was gathering up a pile of books to read, and every time I added more books to the stack he pulled this one out from underneath and added it to the top. Once we started reading it was non stop laughter. The book has three toilet disasters - an event sure to delight younger readers. My sons also loved poor mole who had called the plumbers only to discover his tap wasn't broken at all. He had just forgotten to turn it on. But the ending was the very best of all with one disaster after another followed by a massive flood.

My only possible complaint with the book is one hilarious picture which says with water, pipe, toilet roll and two legs visible behind a large white square which reads censored - too embarrassing for rabbit. My sons loved this section but both said it would have been even more fun if the censored sign was a flap they could lift and invade rabbits privacy.

We really loved this book. It has all the magic of a comic book with the best bits of a rhyming picture book combined. It is a delightful story which is a joy to read, with a wee message for adults as well about getting what you pay for and sticking to reliable contractors. This is a book I would expect to read time and time again, and I've already added another of this author's books to my wish list for Amazon.

If this book appeals then you might like to try:

Who's On First? by John Martz, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton

Booklists.jpg The Toucan Brothers by Tor Freeman is in the Top Ten Picture Books of 2013.
Buy The Toucan Brothers by Tor Freeman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Toucan Brothers by Tor Freeman at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Toucan Brothers by Tor Freeman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Toucan Brothers by Tor Freeman at Amazon.com.


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