Happy nearly Halloween! What better way to celebrate than a couple of spooktacular reviews. The next one will be coming up soon.
First up, Dixie O’Day and the Haunted House by Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy.
Now, I’m going to be honest here, I have been a little bit (quite a lot) obsessed with Shirley Hughes from a very very young age we’re talking pre-school here, so for 20 *cough* years. My signed Dogger is one of my very most treasured possessions!
Just relatively recently I have discovered her wonderful daughter Clara Vulliamy who is an incredibly talented illustrator. Mango and Bambang is one of her more recent releases with Polly Faber and it is superb (Book Monster Review here: Mango and Bambang)! So put Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy together for a series of stories and you have an explosion of booky goodness!
Dixie and Percy are old friends, and the Dixie O’Day books tell the tales of their adventures together starting with first book In the Fast Lane. I loved to read that Clara’s first attempts at drawing cars all looked like potatoes on wheels, since they feature very heavily in all of the books. I think you can see from the cover that she has got the hang of it now, phew.
In Dixie O’Day and the haunted house, Dixie and Percy decide to set out for a camping trip on a dark stormy night (that was their first mistake). They end up in the grounds of a big dark scary looking house (second mistake) and set up camp. But when disaster strikes their tent, and then their car too, the pair of friends are forced to seek refuge inside the spooky building. What happens after that is up to you to find out, but it will make your hair stand on end and your spine tingle.
This book is just wonderful, specifically designed for emerging readers it’s not too long. It is heavily illustrated to add interest and help support children reading the words and is packed with adventure, excitement and humour! The humour was my favourite aspect of this book actually. There are a set of rather judgemental cows that I loved so much. I kept going back to these pages they made me giggle so much. It is exactly what I would expect cows to be thinking while munching on cud in fields … it’s not like they have anything else to do apart from judge passers by!
This is a genuinely spooky story, but pitched perfectly so as not to scare little ones too much, but enough of a twist for you to “ooo” at the end! It contains the right amount of text for younger readers, but it flows wonderfully and doesn’t feel like you’re reading a simple book for children. It would be a pleasure for adults to read out loud to children too, which is a tricky balance to achieve. This is what Shirley Hughes is the master of.
Clara’s illustrations are two toned coloured which gives a really quaint feel and adds interest to the page with oranges and reds that are a perfect colour palette for this spooky read. The expression in each character is a joy, my favourite was poor little Percy’s face clutching his ukulele as they tried to find their sleeping spot … gorgeous! (Please click on this picture to see it full sized!!)
The very back of the book contains some information about Shirley and Clara and some little games – hands up who loves a spot the difference?? (And yes I did find them all, thank you). All a lovely way to end the story and prompt interaction and discussion with children.
Random House Publishers have done a lovely job with this book, it feels like nice quality and stands up well to repeated reading. My copy still looks lovely despite numerous read throughs).
If you want a book that is unique, funny, spooky, without being too scary, beautifully illustrated and written by a top team then this book is undoubtedly the one to go for. I honestly could read this over and over.
Dixie O’Day on His Bike is released July 7th, 2016 and is available for pre-order now. I just can’t wait! I think this is going to be great book full of pure fun! You can read a sneaky peak in the back of Dixie O’Day and the Haunted House.
You can find out more about Dixie O’Day on their very own website:
Do also give Clara Vulliamy’s page a visit too, it’s wonderful:
Thank you for reading this terrifyingly spooky Book Monsters Review.