We love Claude in our house. Love him. In fact, I am convinced that Claude is not actually written by Alex T. Smith, but my daughter. It may be that they are one and the same person, because the Claude stories seem to fit entirely with what falls out of her mind and head, including the reintroduction of the word ‘snazzy’ into common parlance.
Claude: Lights! Camera! Action! Is one in a long series of picture books about Claude, and the latest one I found in my library.
Claude is a lovable dog who looks slightly Snoopyish in a more pointy way. He lives with Mr. and Mrs. Shinyshoes and his best friend in the whole world, Sir. Bobblysock. Sir Bobblysock is indeed, a bobbly sock, but he is a bobbly sock with strong opinions and a vivid personality.
Every day when Mr. and Mrs. Shinyshoes go to work, Claude and Sir. Bobblysock set out on adventures together. This one, as you might guess from the title, involves Claude being introduced to the exciting world of film making.
The story is funny and lively and full of charm. It is an absolute delight to read, either to yourself or to share with others. I read this to myself first, and then had to read it to everyone else I came into contact with, so desperate was I to share this wonderful book.
I love the way Smith writes. I adore his turn of phrase. When Claude is trampolining in the garden he exhorts Sir. Bobblysock to have a go:
‘Sir Bobblysock said that he’d love to, but he’d just had a cream horn and didn’t want it coming back up again with all the bobbling about.’
It’s so naturally funny and sums Sir Bobblysock’s personality up perfectly.
The illustrations are fantastic too, in a limited monochrome and red palette they are cartoonish without being simple, and full of life. There are lots of little jokes in the pictures. I particularly enjoyed the double page spread of Claude’s high street, the names of the shops are perfection. There’s lots to discover in the pages of a Claude story and it makes them great to explore with children.
Although not split into chapters, this has all the qualities of an excellent chapter book and would be perfect for transitional readers. I’d recommend it for children aged six to 10 as independent readers, and for younger readers to share with a parent/carer or teacher.