Thursday, 8 August 2013

Get Set GO! with Dixie O'Day by Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy

The Book Sniffer and his dear chums Dixie and Percy are heading off on a road trip - They do hope you'll join them on a jolly jaunt to the seaside for a fabulous picnic to celebrate the launch of 
Dixie O'Day - In the Fast Lane
so buckle up and pass the boiled sweets.

Dearest Dixie and Percy - How spiffy to see you both after all this time, It's such a breath of fresh air to make it to the countryside and the train 
ride was an utter ball. 

Shall we head for the coast dear chums? I have packed a hamper with plenty of lemonade and jammie dodgers!

 A jolly jaunt to the beach at Brightsea through Didsworth will be the perfect opportunity for us to catch up! 

9am arrive at Didsworth Station on the direct train from Sniffer Central 

First stop a wander through the delightful dappled woods - SO dear chums - fabulous news about your very own Dixie O'Day series, I always knew you'd hit the big time Dixie, what larks. We could have a game of hide and seek while we're here in the woods? Or do you chaps have another favourite game to play when driving around together? 

A game of hide and seek is the PERFECT game for us three! Percy is brilliant at hiding. I had a spot of bother recently while trying to hide behind a tree: I stuck out a bit on both sides.
We’ve packed the babminton set too. You were always rather a whizz with the racquet, Sniffer!

9:30 - A stop at Dot's Allotment

Dot has a very fine array of home grown produce, we should pick up some lovely toms for our picnic? I've packed Gentlemen's Relish sandwiches - What are your most favoured picnic snacks?

Hula Hoops for Percy, a couple of boiled eggs for me, please! I think Dot has put aside one of her award-winning cucumbers, too…

10:00am - The Boating Lake 

What larks! A boating lake, shall we head out for a row? I see a rather splendid little red boat yonder which would fit us three just perfectly. We've known each other for sometime haven't we old beans - but where did you chaps meet? 

This is the life: bobbing about in a jaunty little red boat, on a perfect sunny day!
Percy and I were at school together. Here is our old school photograph, as featured in Dixie O’Day in The Fast Lane

I do remember that those woolly shorts were rather scratchy…

11:00am Car Repair Shop 

CONGRATULATIONS on your fabulous result in the Didsworth to Dodsworth Road Race (as featured in Dixie O'Day In the Fast Lane AND The Dodsworth Daily!) - Better stop off for a quick lick of paint at the repair shop get your lovely car looking as good as new - What are we likely to find in your glove compartment? 

Thank you! It was a wonderful result indeed.
Yes, we might need a touch up of paint here and there and small polish of the hubcaps…
In the glove compartment there are some old liquorice allsorts (Percy’s) and a book of 100 Sturdy Country Walks (mine).

11:30am Pickwick Farm 

I do love a trip to the farm - I'm especially fond of tickling the portly tums of piggies with a stick - I spotted a fair few hilarious creatures in In The Fast Lane but could you tell us about a tiny detail which you love but which we might have missed? 

Did you spot the mouse and his cheese-car? He and his large family are neighbours of mine – jolly nice folk!

11:40: Cliff Edge at Didsworth Hills

Well the views here are marvellous but I'm staying a fair distance from the edge - CRIPES - What larks do you have planned for your next adventure? and will there be more tittersome mild peril? 

Our next trip will be to Brightsea – we are staying at the Hotel Splendide! Cream teas, bow ties, and bracing walks along the jetty…
nothing can possibly go wrong, SURELY??

11:45 - Petrol Station and Diner

Better fill up the old vee-hicle before the final stretch to the beach - lets stop for a light snackerel before we head off - I hear Ron's Ice creams are a dream - which toppings will you choose? 

Ah yes, Ron’s dreamy ice creams - just studying the menu now…
I’ll go for the banana split please, Sniffer!

Woooah Steady on Dixie - we're not in a race now but I appreciate the urgency of making it to the seaside in time for lunch at mid day! TOOT TOOT ..BEEP BEEP 

What a marvellous day spent with two of my dearest chums - We simply must catch up more often - perhaps next time you can both come to the big city? 

We should like that very much. Perhaps Percy can go to see a musical in the West End, and I can peruse the antique markets. I am looking to buy a ukulele…

I simply can't wait to hear what they get up to in the next Dixie O'Day adventure - but for now it remains a mystery....

Now dear Sniffers I do hope you enjoyed your jolly jaunt with us, and I do hope you feel you can call Dixie and Percy chums now too.

REVIEW : Dixie O'Day - In the Fast Lane
Written by Shirley Hughes and Illustrated by Clara Vulliamy

a Bodley Head book.

Every now and again a book arrives at Book Sniffer Towers which I wish I'd had when I was a child, this is one of those books and if I had have had it I would without doubt loved books and reading EVEN more than I already do.

As I swept through the pages at breaknecking speed, I quietly chuckled to myself knowing just how much fun Shirley and Clara must have had together thinking up such a jolly world filled with larksome characters and that distilled joy and silliness came through in every single page. 

There must have been a huge pressure on this dynamic duo for their very first (but definitely not last) collaboration. Everyone has been clamouring for some time to see what two such wonderfully talented and hugely respected artists would create together and they most certainly did not disappoint. 

Shirley has delivered a supremely witty and charming story which melts seemlessly into Clara's chic and endlessly entertaining illustrations.

What a dream team, I wonder if the stories are a small window into happy family day trips of the past. (I like to think so)

In the Fast Lane is the first in the entrancing Dixie O'Day series for younger readers (actually ...all readers) It is a delightful small format hardback within which we are treated to a wealth of extra treats, from exquisitely detailed town maps, to character profiles to help familiarise yourself with the good folk of Didsworth and even games, a sneak chapter preview AND a quiz - what larks.

Such a beautifully package book in bold confident monochrome with accents of bright red - tre tre stylish.

As the first in the series we become acquainted with dear old Dixie and his rotund side kick Percy, before being trust full speed into a hilarious slap stick road race filled with mild peril and shout out loud moments of devious trickery and utter triumph. OBVIOUSLY I can't tell you the outcome of the race - it would be more than my Boney-o's are worth but let me assure you, you'll be gripping the sides of your chair like you were in the race yourself. 

This series will go from strength to strength with Dixie and Percy becoming firm favourites in many many houses. 

Bravo and three cheers for Dixie and Percy and Toots of delight to Shirley and Clara, their ever so marvellous creators.

You can find out more about this delightful series of book on Dixie's very own website! you can also follow illustrator Clara Vulliamy on Twitter @ClaraVulliamy and she has a rather fabulous website too! Please pop along and visit.

Toodle Pip for now Dear Sniffers - keep an eye out for my new feature in tBK magazine next issue - a whole page of tippety top reviews AND a page featuring some of my fave pugarazzi shots.


With huge thanks to Clara, Shirley, CHC and Benji - the Sniffer salutes you! X

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Storm Whale by Mr Benji Davies.

The Storm Whale 
Created by Benji Davies 
and published by Simon and Schuster

I had heard whisperings of this wonderful picture book on Twitter and Facebook, like some mythical creature from the deep sea, we were teased and tormented by sneak peeks at what looked to be the very beginnings of a mesmeric picture book by fabulous beard sporting illustrator Benji Davies.

A teaser

The very moment The Storm Whale washed up at Book Sniffer Towers I was smitten, this book was immediately recognisable as being unique and stood out from the crowd, part of a new wave of creative design lead innovative picture books from Simon & Schuster - three cheers to that.  

So let me tell you more about this incredible addition to the Sniffer bookshelf...

Noi is a small (balaclava wearing) boy, a lonely child who lives with his burly fisherman father on a small island with several cats for company. Benji's characterisation is so well considered that the characters in his books become faultlessly believable. 

After a morning well spent collecting treasures on his very own desolate beach Noi discovers a beached whale.

Noi decides the best place for his new friend is at home with him so an adventure begins as he smuggles the baby whale into the little wooden house which he shares with his father and embarks on a  mission to look after him the very best way he can.

Utterly heart wrenching scenes unfold as the small boy plays sea shanty's to the bath-bound whale and sneaks food from his own plate to feed his new friend.

It really is wonderful to see a father / son relationship depicted in such a touching way...

The time comes when Noi's father discovers the whale and in a delightfully reassuring way they decide to set the whale free together. A cockle warming moment of sadness contentment and hope.

Aside from the beautiful story this picture book is impressively designed, the muted colour pallet is so atmospheric you'll be convince that you can smell the sea and feel the pebbles beneath your toes. With delicate flashes of rich yellow on many spreads signifying safety and security this is far from a bleak tale.

Transported back to a time of innocence and simplicity this delicate story about friendship and has echos of The Snowman in it's magnificent timeless nature. 

A future classic and a must have for the dicerning picture book fan.

Bravo Benji Davies and congratulations - lets hope we see more and more of his wonderful creations in the very near future.

5 starfish out of 5!

Message in a bottle Interview with Benji COMING SOON

In the mean time you can purchase one of theses delightful LIMITED EDITION knitted whale and hardback book sets here - An absolute must have. 

Follow Benji on Twitter @Benji_Davies ...

and check out his illustrator page on Facebook so for tantalising sneak peeks.

A proud day!
Washed up whale  -Image taken from Benji Davies Illustrator on Facebook