Reviews of Star Gazers, Skyscrapers and Extraordinary Sausages (Child's Play Library)

Little Henrietta has plans of grandeur when it comes to what she will do when she grows up: first she wants to make ice-cream, then climb skyscrapers as well as being a superdancer amongst other things; Henrietta certainly does not lack ambition! The same cannot be said for her dog Frank, who only has one thing on his mind... sausages. After Henrietta's rather excited tirade about all the things she wants to do with her life, Frank gets rather cross:
I like sausages and sitting down!
You like ice-cream and moving around!
We have nothing in common!
Will the two friends ever find common ground? You'll have to read it to find out but friendship works in mysterious ways sometimes, as the hilarious ending illustrates!

Claudia Boldt's style is certainly not one that is common place in this country. In France (and I expect elsewhere in mainland Europe, as Claudia is German), children's illustration has always been much more bold and bracing than here, very different from the "pretty" pictures many people will imagine children's book illustration to be about. But I think things have changed here in the last ten years or so, and this book is the epitome of how children's illustration can be both child-friendly and totally "out there". The artwork is not cute or dainty, but it is efficient and is in tune with the overall tone of the book. The incongruity of the story, teamed with the artwork, brings an overall wacky and fun feel to the story. The use of colours, the handwritten font and the dynamic artwork emphasise Henrietta and Frank's surreal daydreaming. Star Gazers, Skyscrapers and Extraordinary Sausages is a celebration of the power of dreams but is nonetheless a story about friendship and about finding common ground - often in food, it has to be said, and this is no exception!
This is definitely an entertaining read, with fun illustrations (Frank's facial expressions are particularly hilarious). I think the unusual artwork will instigate interesting conversations as well as familiarize young audiences with less mainstream styles.

Claudia Boldt has been selected as one of Booktrust's 2011 Best New Illustrators.

Library Mice. 28th March 2011

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