Wendy Quill is a Crocodile’s Bottom by Wendy Meddour is destined to be a very popular book. It’s a kind of girls’ version of the hugely popular Tom Gates series, but written for slightly younger readers. It might also draw comparisons with books like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney.
This is the first in what looks like it might be a series of books, and consists of three standalone stories about Wendy’s various adventures in her quest to be famous. It is not about fame in the traditional sense where the heroine witters on about X Factor. Wendy’s path to fame is much more eccentric and amusing than that.
In the first story Wendy finds fame as the back end of a crocodile in the school production of Peter Pan. In the second she becomes a tap dancer by accident, and in the third story she gets in the local paper for having the plague.
The stories are written in Wendy’s voice and showcase her own take on the world, and like Tom Gates, introduces a subsidiary cast of characters. Like Tom Gates, the stories are illustrated by doodles, comic style drawings and extraneous ‘hand written’ notes.
This is part of the charm of the book, although it makes it much more fun for the individual reader and much less easy for someone who is required to read the story to someone else, either individually or as a group. A lot of the fun of the book comes from the drawings and hand written asides, and without them the book loses much of what makes it work so well. Trying to include them in the narrative as you read out loud and still keep the rhythm of the narrative flowing is pretty hopeless.
As such I would recommend it for children to read alone.
Wendy is not too girly as characters go, and the supporting list of characters in the story ensures that this book will not have sole appeal to girls. The cover illustration and the pinkness of it will, sadly, put boys off though.
I would recommend it for children between six and eight years. It is slightly too juvenile in tone to work with much older children, although it might work for those less confident readers as the text is quite widely spaced, and the stories are short enough for it not to be daunting.