My husband and I love books and its something which we want to encourage in Monkey. We have read to him every night before bed from a very early age. More recently he has taken to pulling the books of the shelves himself and finding a quiet corner and flicking through the pages making up his version of the story as he goes. A book corner is definitely on my to do list.
We all know of the benefits of reading to our child, be it at bedtime or any other time of the day, not only does it help their listening skills, expand their vocabulary and imagination but its also a brilliant bonding experience. Hubby and I have to take it in turns otherwise we bicker over who does it! So when I was given the opportunity to review a brand new Alfie story with Monkey I leapt at the chance.
Alfie Outdoors is written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes, winner of the Book Trust Lifetime Achievement Award. She also received an OBE in 1999 for her outstanding contribution to children’s literature. Based on this I was expecting good things and we weren’t disappointed. Being new to the Alfie series I wondered if this would affect the story for us as we don’t know the characters or what has happened in previous books. I need not have worried as this book has no bearing on the rest of the series.
The book tackles a couple of themes around patience, waiting for vegetables to grow and also the temporary loss of a friend when Alfie’s favourite goat goes missing.
Several elements of the story captivated Monkey as he too is eagerly waiting for vegetable plants to produce -courgettes, pumpkins and potatoes in our case. He too has his only little veggie patch in our vegetable garden and was allowed to choose some seeds. We have also recently had a bonfire burning garden rubbish. I think this helped to bring the story alive for him, along with the lovely illustrations. I particularly like the back pages that run through Alfie’s year month by month.
I first read the story to Monkey at bed time, we read it a couple of times as once wasn’t enough. Initially he was a little confused as our cat is called Alfie, so I explained to him about the main character being a little boy (picture below). Once he had got his head round this he started to relate to the book Alfie through pointing to things in the book or saying ‘like Monkey’. The activities in the garden are all ones we have been through ourself in the last few months so it was great that I could draw comparisons and bring the book alive for him. He told me his favourite bit was when Alfie pulled up the carrots – that figures, he keeps going on about pulling up carrots. There is also a page which has a number of bugs on it, I think every child could draw comparisons with their own bug hunt experiences! Monkey enjoyed counting and naming them all.
From a parent’s viewpoint it is easy to read and flows well. Its much more than a picture book, although the illustrations are lovely it has a good amount of content and holds Monkey’s interest. From cover to cover it took us 15 minutes or so to read. There are lots of opportunities to question what is going on in the book, checking understanding as you go along which can also aid with development.
It is published on the 30th July and the Bodley Head hardback edition has an RRP of £11.99. We throughly enjoyed this story and I will be looking out for some of the other books in the series noted below:
- Alfie Gets in First
- Alfie’s Feet
- Alfie Gives a Hand
- An Evening at Alfie’s
- Alfie & the Birthday Surprise
- Alfie Wins a Prize
- Alfie and the Big Boys
I was given a copy of Alfie Outdoors to review, all comments and opinions are my own.