Review Blog

Jul 22 2014

Howler by Michael Rosen and Neal Layton

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408846179.
(Age: Pre-school - Year 2) Have you ever considered what it must be like to follow a pregnancy through the eyes of the family pet? In this very funny take on a common situation, Dog introduces us to his pet girl, Rover and her family and provides a running commentary of the changes he notices in Rover's mum as her tummy gets bigger and bigger. It takes him a while to realise it's not just because she's swallowed a big dinner and he doesn't understand why he can't sleep in the big new basket Rover's dad brings home or gets into strife for trying to catch the animals hanging from the mobile on the ceiling. Finally, it becomes clear when a very small human appears on the scene although he is puzzled when Rover tries to eat it and it tries to eat Rover's mum. He calls the baby Howler because that what it does, yet no matter what he does he is ignored or in BIG trouble.
So he starts to spend time with the dog next door, Ruff-Ruff and it's not long before she starts to get bigger and bigger . . . and gradually his understanding of the phenomenon develops.
This new edition of this story by the author of We're Going on a Bear Hunt is very funny and gives a totally new take on that classic pre-school theme of a new baby joining the family. Neal Layton's illustrations appear to be quite simple but they convey so much meaning and expression that they are the perfect accompaniment, creating a fresh, lively and entertaining story. As well as showing the young child who is also awaiting a new brother or sister that 'someone' empathises with their bewilderment, if can also that can be used to help them understand the concept of perspective and our view of an event depends on our position within it. Discussing the book from the point of view of rover, her mum her dad, even Ruff-Ruff's owners, would all enrich and enhance the experience.
Barbara Braxton

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