Monday, 9 January 2012

The Alfie books by Shirley Hughes

Ah Alfie! I remember him so well from my own childhood and was prepared for Rosie to turn up her nose at him and think the drawings far too old fashioned for her modern sensibilities. But how wrong I was. She loves the stories and the illustrations and we go in little Alfie circles where the different books reign favourite.

Our current favourite is Alfie Gets in First. I heartily recommend this for anyone with a toddler - mainly for the cautionary element of the tale. Alfie does indeed get in first, in fact he slams the door and no-one else can get in. And everyone in the street has to get involved in helping poor old Mum open the door. I've never left my keys inside the house with just Rosie for company since!

Alfie's Feet is lovely too. It speaks straight to the heart of any toddler who love stamping about in wellies and splashing in puddles (that would be every one of them - yes?!). Alfie buys some new wellies and Dad takes him to the park to try them out. Once at the park Alfie has great fun stomping but he can't quite decide what is wrong with his welly boots. Finally he and Dad realise that he's got them on the wrong feet!

I could go through every Alfie book there is since we've got them all but I'll stop at three! The last one is Alfie Gives a Hand. Alfie is invited to his friend Bernard's birthday party and to stop himself from feeling worried about going there without Mum and his little sister Annie Rose he takes his blanket with him. But his friend Mim is there and she needs his help since she is very nervous. Looking after Mim and his blanket and enjoying the party is a bit too hard. Alfie carefully puts his blanket somewhere safe. It's a lovely story and I really like just looking at the birthday tea laid out on the table. It's just how a birthday tea should look!

I have to give a special mention to An Evening at Alfie's since the whole drama of the water coming through the ceiling and the subsequent to-ing and fro-ing make it one of the most exciting Alfie stories!

The detail in the illustrations is beautiful and I really love the way Shirley Hughes shows how messy a house with children can get. It makes me feel so much better about the state of my house! The relationship between Alfie and his little sister Annie Rose is beautifully portrayed. But I think the thing which is most relevant and important about these books is that toddlers can relate to each story. They have a real universal appeal. Yes they are clearly set in West London and are slightly old fashioned but the stories are of a family with two young children and their day-to-day lives and pinpoints the big and little things that matter to little ones. We love Alfie!

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