It is not very often that I am asked to review a children’s book, I tend to spend most of my time reading tales of derring-do. The first problem I faced was how do you review a children’s book? Not having a pre-schooler handy, I used the next best thing, my wife!

Writing books for young children is not so much a science as it is an art form, and Ed Baker has found the perfect formula. The ideal book in this genre has vivid and easy to understand graphics. The words have to be easy to comprehend, and the ideas within the tale need to be concepts that a young child can grasp. The Story Of Kitten Cuckoo achieves all of these goals.

Using the canvas of the pictures Ed Baker does a great job with the accompanying text. Written as a loosely rhyming poem we are introduced to concepts of friendship and loneliness. 

Kitten Cuckoo is a kitten who does not seem to fit in, his only friend is a baby elephant who also does not seem to fit in with the other elephants. The two friends form a bond, they do not care what the other animals think of them. They are outcasts within their own society.

Because they are unhappy with their lives they run away. A kitten can hide easily, unfortunately an elephant is a slightly different kettle of fish. It does not take long for the bad guys to capture poor Paquile (Pah KEEL). As punishment the baby elephant is sent to a game reserve in Africa. Poor Kitten Cuckoo is distraught, not only has he lost his only friend, he also discovers that he has lost his home.

Lapsing into a life as an ally cat, Kitten Cuckoo has to face the realities of life on the streets. Of course there has to be a happy ending, and that is achieved when Kitten Cuckoo decides to find his long lost friend.

As a learning tool I liked this book a lot. The illustrations, while simple, are feature rich. Any parent could use this as a great book to teach about colors, animals, and maybe even more complex concepts.

On the downside, I think that Ed Baker could have made the text a little larger and easier to read. The font used looks like it is a variation on Comic Sans, this is not a great font for clarity. Young readers need clear and easily identifiable letters.

If you have a young child who is ready to start the learning to read process, give The Story Of Kitten Cuckoo a try. There is also a great web site that is done in the same style as the book. The website contains a very addictive version of the arcade game Pong, the paddles are kittens, and the ball is a ball of yarn! Both young and old can enjoy this.

The Story Of Kitten Cuckoo is available on Amazon

Simon Barrett


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