Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson, ill. by Hannah Shaw

I’ve only ever seen Mr Ardagh from a distance but the Mr Birdsnest in this book does look awfully like him I think….

Publisher: Barrington Stoke ISBN: 9781781120057 Published: 15/8/2012 RA 6+, IA 5-8

When Elmo and his family move house he and his sister quickly discover that the house next door makes the best playground. With a tiger in the garden and a bird-eating spider in the cupboard, they have the best adventures! But when Mr Birsdnest moves in next door they can’t play there anymore and when he appears to kidnap their gran, well…. they’ll just have to rescue her!

A great little story for young readers, or for children just getting the hang of reading. It’s also part of Barrington Stoke’s Little Gems series so not only is it a fun story but it also has activities on the inside flaps of the cover – this particularly book has a couple of jokes on one flap and instructions for drawing a jungle bird on the other.

The characters were all rather fun – including the Ardagh lookalike Mr Birdsnest! – but my especial favourite has to be Mr Crocodile, the estate agent with the false teeth smile. The name conjures up an image right away, doesn’t it? Rather apt I thought!

I also quite liked that in the illustrations Elmo and his family are multi-racial – quite apart from the fact that books  should represent our multi-racial society more accurately (which is a whole debate in and of itself), it does get kind of dull seeing the same race represented everywhere and this book’s illustrations are a nice, unobtrusive way to do this, especially as this is a book meant for younger readers.

The illustrations were another big love of mine, especially the snazzy inside covers that were literally covered with birds. I’ve grown up with wild parrots (no, seriously, London does have it’s own colonies of wild parrots – google it!) so I’ve got a soft spot for them, especially when they’re as funkily drawn as these!

A fun little read aimed at younger children but guaranteed to charm adults too (especially this particular adult).

Find Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door here.




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