Ed Vere is probably best known for his picture book Mr. Big. This book haunts me. It is in every school library I visit, every library I visit, and seems to be on sale in every charity shop book shelf I raid. I wonder if it is one of those books where every home in the land has a copy.
That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. I like Ed Vere’s work very much and my children and I have shared and enjoyed Mr. Big many times. It is however, a relief to find something else by Ed available on the local library shelves for a change.
My son and I picked up Max The Brave because of the impossibly cute picture of a teeny weeny kitten with eyes like soup plates on the front. It is an undeniably heart pulling picture and even Oscar, who is getting to be quite gruff and manly, as all eight year olds are wont to do, was entranced.
Max the Brave is very brave. As you would expect. One thing he is enormously brave about is mice. Max wants to hunt mice like there is no tomorrow. If you were French you would say it is his raison ‘d’être.
The only snag is that Max has absolutely no idea what a mouse looks like. This is the beginning of a wonderful twist on that classic: ‘Are you my mummy/friend/penguin?’ trope that crops up time after time in the history of children’s picture books, and which, for the most part bore me rigid.
Not Max though.
There is an element of The Gruffalo in here, but without the rhyming, which really pleases me, as, and I whisper this because I know I am in a minority – I do not like The Gruffalo, and I particularly dislike rhyming stories for children.
What there is, is heaps of humour and a lovely twist, and some exceptionally clever illustrations which were an utter pleasure. Oscar has read this four times since we bought it home two days ago, and now wants his own copy.
Need I say more?
p.s. Yes. A bit. Suitable for all ages if you’ve got the capacity to enjoy picture books when everyone tells you you’re too old for them (yah boo sucks is what we say), and boys and girls will delight in it.