Tag Archives: Russell Ayto

Bad Dad?

Christmas in jail. Is this an OK subject for a picture book? I think it is, even though we skirt fairly quickly past what Dad did to end up in jail. (He stole something.)

Liz Weir and Karin Littlewood, When Dad Was Away

In Liz Weir’s book When Dad Was Away, with illustrations by Karin Littlewood, Milly finds out about her Dad’s fate in the worst way; from the other children at school. But her Mum explains what it means and the family have to get used to their new life. They eventually visit Dad in prison, showing the reader how visitors are searched.

Dad records stories on a CD for his children to listen to, so apart from the stealing he is clearly A Good Dad. And they get to go to a Christmas party in the prison. This should reassure children who have members of their family in jail. I only hope the description is an accurate one.

In Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? Julie Middleton writes about a very different Dad. This one takes his son Dave to a dinosaur museum. He assures Dave that all dinosaurs are dead.

Julie Middleton and Russell Ayto, Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad?

But are they? Well, what do you think? This is a picture book, and its dinosaurs are nowhere near as dead as we’d like them to be. Russell Ayto’s pictures could just about be interpreted as being all in Dave’s mind. That the dinosaurs really are extinct.

Except with the last one. Dad and Dave are dangerously close to becoming more dead themselves.

They RUN.

Christmas wishlist

Dear Father Christmas I suppose it’s soon time for Christmas shopping. I’d rather not think about it, though I am planning a foray into the charity shops of Altrincham today. Don’t tell the family, please. Here are two new books for those who need something fresh.

Father Christmas features in both these picture books, as well he should. In Dear Father Christmas by Jeanne Willis you even get his address, so you can write to him yourself. I won’t, but the stickers in the back of the book will be nice to put on my other Christmas post. I love stickers! The story is about a girl’s letter to FC, and she is refreshingly uninterested in worldly goods, so I hope that’s a message which young readers can adopt.

In Where Teddy Bears Come From by Mark Burgess we have a little wolf longing for a teddy bear of his own to help him sleep. Many traditional story characters turn up while he is searching for his bear, including Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. I like the colours in Russell Ayto’s illustrations and there’s a nice retro 1960s feel to them.

Where Teddy Bears Come From