News – The Famous Five 70th Anniversary

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s much-loved Famous Five series, five of the world’s most illustrious children’s illustrators have teamed up with Hodder Children’s Books to present new special anniversary covers for the first five adventures in the series. Quentin Blake, Oliver Jeffers, Helen Oxenbury, Emma Chichester Clark and Chris Riddell have all turned their hand to illustrating the covers of this wonderful set of books.

Available in this new version of the series (published May 2012) are:

Five on a Treasure Island (Quentin Blake)

Five Go Adventuring Again (Helen Oxenbury)

Five Run Away Together (Emma Chichester Clark)

Five Go to Smuggler’s Top (Oliver Jeffers)

Five Go Off in a Caravan (Chris Riddell)

This wonderful illustration initiative is in support of the House of Illustration charity, the world’s first dedicated home for the art of illustration. Developed by Quentin Blake, the charity puts on exhibitions, runs competitions and organises events with some of the UK’s leading illustrators. It also works in schools and acts as a hub for emerging and established artists. Their ambition remains to create a permanent home to celebrate the past, present and future of illustration.

A percentage of royalties from each of the 70th anniversary edition books will go to the House of Illustration.

How well do you know your Famous Five? Head here to test your knowledge!

The Famous Five series is published by Hodder Children’s.

Review – Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep

Douglas is packing for a sleepover at Rabbit’s. He’s a bit beside himself at the prospect, and on the way to Rabbit’s warren, he gets a wee bit lost. Climbing a sapling to see where he’s going, the twig-like tree breaks under Douglas’s weight and he ends up almost squishing Little Sheep (and friends).

Feeling very sorry about that, Douglas invites Little Sheep along for the sleepover, certain it will be okay – “. . . there’s plenty of room at Rabbit’s.” Perhaps not so much room, however, when a stack of sweet little sheep inadvertently attach themselves to Douglas’s backpack, and come along for the ride.

Seeing Rabbit attempt to graciously host a mighty bleat of sheep in his modest warren for the night, is comedy magic – something Melling does so very well. With a bit of shoving, cramming and cross-section imagery to see what’s going on inside Rabbit’s warren, kids will delight in the critters’ hilarious attempt at brushing teeth, snaffling some blanket and prepping for Rabbit’s bedtime story.

But wait – Rabbit can’t fit! How on earth can he read everyone their goodnight tale?

One whopping great sneeze and some cork-popping sheep quickly necessitates a change of venue, and the large group of sleepyheads finally get some shuteye.

This is my favourite yet of the Douglas picture books. Melling’s stunning illustrations have yet again nailed the comedy and detail he is renowned for. With each little sheep (loving the one with the striped bloomers and glasses!) hosting a priceless facial expression, it’s pure pleasure meandering the pages to delight in the scene. And our big Hugless Douglas is as charming as ever.

A winner for the younger set.

Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep is published by Hodder Children’s Books.