Get Ahead Fred by Daisy Dawes

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Get Ahead Fred by Daisy Dawes

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A fun tale about a man who loves hats, and a visit from the Queen. It doesn't always hit the mark, but Daisy Dawes' models are a definite highlight.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Maverick Arts Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1848860407

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Fred loves wearing hats. He's got a fez, a bonnet, a stetson, and a glittery fedora. When the Queen announces she's coming to town, he decides to get the finest hat he's ever had. There's no possible way that anything could go wrong, is there? ...Is there?

Get Ahead Fred has a lot of nice touches. I particularly enjoyed seeing through Fred's hat collection - it felt like a headwear version of Monty Python's Cheese Shop sketch. Even if the young audience aren't immediately familiar with all the different types of hat, they won't feel left out. It's a fun little fashion show! Most of the writing is crisp, with decent rhymes - a couple feel a little forced, but there's nothing outrageous. On a few occasions I had to backtrack to get the rhythm right. Once you get it, it's not a problem in repeated readings, but it does catch you out a little more than you'd want.

Daisy Dawes is a model maker, who's worked on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Rex the Runt and perennial favourite Pingu. Impressive! In a change from most picture books, the illustrations are models which have been photographed. These models are packed with character, have a familiar style that will immediately click with children, and set the mood wonderfully. The style is mostly seen with the sort of TV tie-in book that we tend to shy away from, but it's super with an original story. The quality bodes really well for future books from Daisy Dawes.

Although I enjoyed Fred's hat collection, I wasn't blown away by the whole story. The plot ticks along pleasantly most of the time, but Fred's comeuppance feels a bit sudden. Sudden and quirky can work well in cautionary tales - Super Dooper Jezebel by Tony Ross does it particularly well - but Fred's crime is just to wear an ill-fitting hat, so the ending feels unsatisfying. Fred's tale is bookended by an aside about some cats. It's a little garnish on the top, and cats are always cute, but it's not entirely necessary, and reading a bit more about Fred would have been my preference.

Get Ahead Fred offers something a little different from the norm, which is always welcome. It doesn't always hit the mark, but when it does - with Daisy Dawes' models in particular - it's enjoyable. Worth a look.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

If cautionary tales are your thing, then look no further than the master: Jim, Who Ran Away From His Nurse and Was Eaten By A Lion by Hilaire Belloc and Mini Grey. Too Purply! by Jean Reidy and Genevieve Leloup features a great fashion show. If you're a hat fan, well, it's got to be The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss, but Green by Mark Sperring and Leo Timmers features a rather nifty green hat too.

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Buy Get Ahead Fred by Daisy Dawes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Get Ahead Fred by Daisy Dawes at


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