I’ve been meaning to share these books for quite a while, but it’s taken a significant amount of persuasion (and complicated negotiations involving cheese and Fireman Sam outfits) to actually prise them away from the boys during the day.
On a side note, I’ve started to notice that both C and H have different preferences for the books they want to read during the day than they do at bedtime. I guess this isn’t rocket science, but I’m a bear of very little brain and I’ve only recently clicked that there are certain stories that they will howl with laughter over at lunchtime but that will be met with a stony glare if I try to introduce them as a bedtime story.
Anyway, that doesn’t apply to these books as they are equally popular at any time of the day or night. We’ve long been fans of Leigh Hodgkinson (C and H are constantly in bits over her essential-for-every-household collaborations with the brilliant Caryl Hart – ‘Don’t Dip Your Chips In Your Drink, Kate!‘ and ‘Don’t Put Your Pants On Your Head, Fred!‘) but we hadn’t discovered her ‘Colin’ books until one of our visits to the library last month.
After only a day or two it became very clear that this was a book we would have to own, rather than just borrow. I just love the way that the text is so much a part of the pictures themselves, weaving in and out of the illustrations and varying in size, font and orientation. In every book that uses this style (we love Lauren Child‘s work as well, for example) we find ourselves being drawn into the story so effectively and the less formal fonts always make me feel as though one of us could have written this book (I’m not kidding myself that I could *actually* create anything like’s Hodgkinson’s genius books however, just to make that clear.).
Another reason that this book felt so cosily familiar was that the language choices Hodgkinson makes are exactly the ones I would make (again, if I were in ANY way talented enough to write and illustrate a children’s book!). A lot of my very favourite words appear in this book: scampering, comfy, snooooooooooooozing, baffled, oodles, the list goes on. Each character is so beautifully thought out and the way they are drawn makes me smile every time (especially the expression in the eyes).
However, I’ve wittered on about why I love the books and haven’t yet even touched on what C and H enjoy. Whilst I know they also appreciate the above, I think what grabs their attention the most is that the story is just so heartfelt, fun, silly and colourful all at the same time.
In brief, the plot follows the plight of a feisty feline called Colin, who simply wants a snuggly place to snooze. He finds a box that seems perfect on first inspection but the use of which actually sends him on a tiring journey around the world (and beyond) before finally bringing him to the comforting abode of someone with the most perfect picture book name EVER, Grandma Flapjack.
Here is our favourite spread, showing one of the chillier destinations on Colin’s snooze-quest:
The first ‘Colin’ book was a pretty hard act to follow, but Hodgkinson has nailed it with this sequel. The pictures are still practically perfect in every way, the words are still whizz-pop wonderful, but Colin himself is an entirely different pickle this time around.
He wakes up after a catnap to find that he has the wrong shadow. He appears to be himself in the flesh (though he even questions that at one point) but his shadow is decidedly more small and squeaky. Yep, the cat is Colin but the shadow is… Vernon the mouse. Vernon is reluctant to return the shadow as feels it has made a big difference to his standing in the world, but understandably Colin is keen to have it back. Once they start chatting about it, however, they realise that they actually have more in common than they’d realised. The spread where this conversation takes place is going down in my Hall of Fame as one of the most lovely combinations of text, illustrations and the meaning of life:
Vernon’s knees tucked up underneath his chin, Colin’s woeful eyes and shyly curled tail, the disco-ball in Vernon’s mouse house. Perfection. This book would be a great starting point to discuss feelings with children, on issues such as fitting in, friendship and even bullying. Oh, and Vernon uses a hostess trolley just like the one my Granny had – another big plus point.
Needless to say, there are loads of my bestest words in this book as well, including probably one that’s in my top three ever – ‘pootled’. I do an awful lot of pootling, as do C and H, and they both chortled away at discovering this slightly unusual word in a real life book (I swear they think I use my own language of nonsense words half the time. Does anyone else use the word ‘gudge’ to describe something yukky? Just me then……… Hmm, they might have a point.)
Anyway, I would highly recommend that you pootle off and seek out both these books, as well as Hodgkinson’s other work as well. You’ll have ooodles of fun with them 🙂