Me and My Mammoth, by Joel Stewart

My and My Mammoth by Joel Stewart (Macmillan).

Just read this to my 5 year old daughter & we both liked it a lot. (Was probably made even better by our quiet circumstances: I love all my three children, of course, but when there's only one of them at home, as there was earlier tonight, there's a peacefulness that you've really gotta cherish; and we did!)

It's the story of a young girl (not specified as such in the text, but that's what we assumed - and there needs to be more girl stories of this sort, in my opinion) who loves making things but admits that they don't always turn out the way she expects. It's funny, genuinely funny - as in, the gags are clever and the timing is good. And it's not in the slightest bit moralistic or preachy as some books about kids doing art have been of late (I'm thinking of The Dot).

My favourite bit was when she is shown working on an aeroplane kit: "But when I had finished ... [turn over to see a massive mammoth across two pages] ... it was much larger than I expected. And it was nothing like the picture on the box."

My daughter's favourite bit was when the mammoth, flying the girl to the Arctic, crashed onto the ice, and in perfect understatement as she lies upside down beside a propeller, the girl just says, "The landing was tricky ..."

The writing is totally without fault. The font is a really lovely home-made thing. The illustrations, by the author, are delicious in style and give plenty of engaging detail on each page and in each element. There are one or two contrived moments in the narrative, but overall it works.

And by the way, Joel is the illustrator of many really good quality children's books including, what is probably my favourite children's book, The Magic Paintbrush (written by the amazing Julia Donaldson). He also illustrated a book I don't really like in terms of the words, Underwater Farmyard.

iiii = four thumbs up from us for Me and My Mammoth. Buy it here >>>

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