If you have seen Harry Hill perform on television or in stand up, then you will pretty much know what kind of thing to expect from his children’s book: ‘Tim the Tiny Horse’. It is full of eccentric, wobbly illustrations of Tim and his tiny antics, from having a bath in a bottle top to developing a crush on Anna Ford the news reader.
This last story, and certain others in the book, lead me to suspect that this really isn’t a children’s book at all, but the publishers simply didn’t know what to do with it. This book has been in our school library for a few years now. Lots of children get it out, read it and enjoy it, but none of them, when quizzed, had the faintest idea of who Anna Ford was.
It doesn’t seem to hamper their enjoyment, but a lot of the more surreal elements of the stories (the book is a series of short stories), will pass them by and their amusement at the stories is not for the same things we would find amusing. Having said that, the material is never rude, crude or vulgar – just odd.
The book would make a perfect transitional book for a newly confident reader. There is very little text, the short stories in the book are incredibly short, each page having one or two lines of text on it and despite the thickness of the book, it really doesn’t take long to zip through it.
The text however, should probably be given to the top end of the transitional reading band, mainly because it is printed in a facsimile of Hill’s own hand-writing and it is a kind of scrawly copper plate which some children will find incredibly difficult to read. Also, the pages of the book are often brightly coloured, and with the small, scrawly text on bright yellow or green pages it makes it even more difficult to read. The stories, although short, require a sophisticated knowledge of humour, and a fairly wide vocabulary too.
I recommend the book for boys and girls aged eight to twelve.