Weasels by Elys Dolan
|Weasels by Elys Dolan|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Margaret Young|
|Summary: A highly visual, unique, picture book for older children with a slightly twisted sense of humour.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 32||Date: April 2013|
|Publisher: Nosy Crow|
|External links: Author's website|
Shortlisted for Waterstone's Best Picture Book 2014
Shortlisted for Roald Dahl Funny Prize Shortlist 2013: The Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under
Longlisted for the 2014 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal
I chose 'Weasels' because my sons enjoy books with a bit of wicked wit. Books are my passion, and something my children greatly enjoy as well. We have several hundred children's books, and we really value ones that are a bit different from the norm. 'Weasels' most certainly qualifies as different. The premise of the story is that weasels are secretly plotting to take over the world. My boys call it World War Weasel. A slight but very humorous mishap really throws a spanner in the works. The weasels have built a massive machine to secure their quest for world domination, but just as the countdown begins the lights go off and the machine status screen clearly tells us It's broken.
The illustrations really make this book. Every time we read it , we find something else, and with a bit of imagination, you can create miniature stories for each picture. There is always something new to find. In many ways, the highly visual nature of this book reminds me of comic books. I've often blamed the growing literacy crisis on the lack of comics today. Comics made boys want to read, but there is something more. Boys relate to a story better with plenty of visual cues. The highly detailed, very busy illustrations in this book make it perfect to draw boys in.
This is not a book for beginning readers. The text is stylised, and there are far too many complicated words for a new reader like frothuccino and reconbobulate, as well as abbreviations. I feel this book would suit older confident readers from ages 8+, but it is also a very fun book to read out loud. It is one of those books that you can not read in a straight voice. It just cries out to have expression added, with silly voices, screams and shouting. I would not recommend this book for toddlers, there is a bit too much activity for a little one to follow and most of the jokes would be lost on a younger child. There are in fact many jokes that are clearly aimed at adults rather than children, but these are presented in such a way that they do not intrude on the story. For instance there is an illustration showing weasels at a screen which reads World of Woodcraft. My 8 year old immediately caught the reference to World of Warcraft, but the 4 year old did not. But, as this is only part of the illustration, not the main storyline, there is no interruption to the flow of the text if a child does not catch on. My children especially enjoyed the map table in the operations room as the weasels plan their takeover because they did catch this reference to history, and this is where they renamed the story World War Weasel, but a child could enjoy the story just as much without catching on to these extra props.
My sons loved a weasel with an obsession for his drill, a number of accidents and most of all a weasel standing in a wet patch when the lights go off. The obvious explanation of the wet patch is spilled coffee, but if your children still enjoy toilet humour it can easily be taken as something else. The very best part is a brilliant twist at the end, which adults will relate to as well. This is a fun book for children, and a wonderful book those children who feel a bit too old for most picture books but still really enjoy illustration. I have to admit, I really enjoyed this myself. As a book for an adult to read out loud to a child this book is an excellent choice because while the child is enjoying this book on one level, the adult can be picking up on all sorts of different aspects to the narrative and illustrations. I can certainly see this book appealing to the growing number of adults who are buying pictures books for themselves rather than their children.
Despite the fact that I really enjoyed this book, I very nearly gave this only 4 stars. This book is witty, well illustrated and has so much going on at so many different levels that it can really appeal to a very wide range of ages. But as much as my children enjoyed this, I can't see it becoming a favourite story book that is read so often that the child knows every word by heart. This is not the bedtime story that children just can not go to sleep without. After a bit of thought though, I came to the conclusion that it was never intended as a child's favourite bedtime story. Instead this is a rather courageous attempt to break new ground in publishing, creating picture books for a slightly older market. This is a book that makes reading fun and is one of only a few picture books that can really appeal to older boys as well. I'm happy to see my children enjoying chapter books, but I am also happy to find books like this that keep the magic of picture books alive for them. I've always said that I valued books which break the mould. This book does just that, so in retrospect, I feel 5 stars is the only fair rating I can give this.
You can read more book reviews or buy Weasels by Elys Dolan at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Weasels by Elys Dolan at Amazon.com.
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