Starting today I am going to review a children’s book a week in an effort to increase my understanding of children’s literature, encourage myself to write more, and also to understand why some books are successful and award winning while others are not. I will also give my personal opinion.
One of my inspirations for starting this journey was reading a book to my children. It was SO RUBBISH. I thought, “surely I can create a better book than this!” I despised the fact that the novelty factor of this book made my kids want me to read it over and over to them.
Today I will review that book that made me so angry that I wanted to throw it into the abyss of hell to burn and smoulder for all eternity. Keep in mind I have never written a book review in my life, so be kind.
Dot and Dash At the Beach is an illustrated lift the flap book for probably 2-5 year olds written by Emma Dodd. It is bright and colourful. Extremely visually appealing. The flaps in the book, when lifted reveal different textures appropriate to the illustration. For example, the sandcastle is made of sandpaper and the starfish is made of the hooked side of velcro. So I guess that makes for a ‘sensory’ experience.
I have a natural hate of lift the flap books as a parent. I know I loved them as a kid, but they tend to get destroyed and pulled off in the first 24 hours of the book entering the house. Every single one of the flaps in this book is either crumpled, held on by sticky tape, or both. But, I can live this problem (pop up books are much more annoying and more difficult to repair then flap books.)
I actually quite like the illustrations. They are both simple and appealing at the same time. Bright colours draw the childrens attention and they are well done. Some illustrated books can be so cheesy, but this one is complely non-offensive. There are lots of patterns and colours which are fun.
The plot is basic enough. Dot and Dash are a cat and dog. Dot is covered in big spots, Dash is covered in horizontal lines, hence their names. They go to the beach, make sandcastles, jump in rockpools, explore and eat icecream. A nice day at the beach I guess. This is also where I start to get cranky and almost a little confused.
On 3 pages a new character is introduced. These characters are also named after their appearance. The elephant’s name is Big. The mouse is Small. The giraffe is Tall.
I just feel like screaming, “use your friggen imagination!” Anyone, even my two year old can think of better names than that! Even if they were just called by what animal they are I could be much more forgiving. But since these animals are named after their general description it just makes the book boring and frustrating. Here is an example.
Now they are making a sandcastle. Big helps.
It makes me want to scream. If it read as, “Now they are making a sandcastle. Harold helps.” that is much easier to read.
To be honest, this is my only real gripe with the book. But that gripe is a deal-breaker. I often struggle reading out loud to my children. I have a tendency to stumble upon my words like my mouth cannot keep up with my brain. But for some reason, the use of descriptive words as proper nouns makes this even worse.
How I could write so much about a 10 page picture book is a little beyond me. I give the book 2 out of 5. My children love it, but I hate it. I think a book should be just as much enjoyable to the adult as it is to the child.