Ever since my Mum bought a copy of Monkey and Me for my youngest son I have been a fan of Emily Gravett’s books. I am no artist, but appreciate the skill with which she draws her adorable animal characters. The fact that her stories became family favourites proves that her use of repetition and catchy rhymes is a style of narrative that children really enjoy listening to.
Many years later I had the pleasure of meeting Emily Gravett in Yorkshire and watched with admiration as she led a dragon drawing workshop to a mixed age-group of amateur artists and loved listening in later that day as she read Cyril and Pat to a large group of enthralled toddlers.
It is unsurprising that Emily has been awarded the prestigious CILIP Kate Greenaway medal for illustration, not once but twice, because her work is consistently charming and clever in an understated way, which appeals to young readers, who are after all the best judges of a good picture book story.
Her most recent book is no exception. What struck me first is its glossiness; for both the dust jacket and the hardback cover hiding underneath are bright and shiny and shout out to be picked up by a reader and opened. The inside leaves contain vintage style advertisements, which may appeal more to an adult reader than a child, but as they are bright and fun they will at the very least provide a talking point, which is also important for children’s development.
Too Much Stuff! is a funny story told in rhyme about a pair of expectant parent magpies who collect a lot of things for their nest, because they think ‘stuff’ is what their chicks will need. Overloaded it all comes tumbling down and the parents frantically search for their precious eggs amongst the chaos, finally appreciating that what actually matters is the safety of their eggs and not the possessions they accumulated.
So, there is subtle message about not being greedy, because the ‘stuff’ is eventually distributed to other creatures in the wood, who need it more than the magpies and make good use of it. You will be pleased to hear that there is happy ending, but I am going to refrain from being a spoiler and let you discover it for yourselves! Preferably with a young reader, who I have no doubt will laugh at the crazy hoarding instincts of the magpies and enjoy imagining the stuff raining down as the tree goes C R A C K!
I can’t wait to find out what the young reviewer on our Kids Reviews panel thinks of it….
Too Much Stuff! is published by Two Hoots.
You can find out more about Emily Gravett’s other books on her website.