My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am very lucky in that I have access to a university library which has a genuinely superb children’s literature collection. I have got hundreds of books out of there and I am nowhere near reading them all.
And sometimes, when you turn left instead of right, when you go to 823.92 as opposed to 712.092, you can come across an absolute treasure. Claude on Holiday by Alex T Smith is such a treasure. It’s flipping lovely and ridiculously adorable.
There’s a delightfully naughty feel to the story, and one that translates brilliantly to the youngest of readers and the adult (the “lifeguard helping someone with their beach balls” page is so brilliantly naughty it made me laugh out loud).
Visually, the illustrations are gorgeous. It’s very reminiscent of the Eloise books; there’s a similar colour palette and sense of subversive anarchy. Smith’s art however is resolutely unique, and visually luscious (his seaside scenes are an utter treat).
I also particularly enjoyed how Claude on Holiday introduced a second language element – and retained its funny, sparky feel whilst doing so. I have bitter memories of being force-fed some dry, dry French books at school that told me all about ‘cats’ and ‘Easter’. Claude on Holiday teaches you the important bits of French, including: “Un Vilain Pirate” (A naughty pirate) and “Une chaussette” (a sock)
Bravo Claude! Bravo Sir Bobblysock!
(Et BRAVO Monsieur Smith!)