Fluffy Hugs Author: Richard Dodd
Fluffy Hugs: A short story about a Penguin, Fluffy, whose hugs are magical, and who teleports around the world hugging anyone in need.
Yes. It’s as cute as it sounds.
But how does the book stand up as a whole?
Pretty well actually, the writing is nice and easy for a young person to follow, with a few doodled ink pictures scattered throughout to help hold interest. I read the Kindle black and white version, so while the images were not by any means the pinnacle of the experience they were a nice addition.
The spark of imagination key to a children’s book is there, with Fluffy meeting a variety of animal friends and his travels taking him from France all the way to the north pole.
If you’re a fan of the books your kids read having positive and clear morals Fluffy doesn’t disappoint there either, with Fluffy’s aim being to spread his magic by hugging as many people in need as possible while still hoping to be reunited with his parents, so yes, very pure and selfless moral compass there. The environment and the need to look after it gets a shout out too.
A bit complaint I can put forward is, in the Kindle version at least, you can’t change the size of the text, so while the book is appropriate to read too young children it’s really practical to point along your line of reading to encourage them to join in, the text is just too small.
But apart from that a good read for young kids, I’ll let my child read it as soon as he’s allowed out of the cellar.
Ziger The Tiger Author: Robert Locke
Another book for very young children, I’m not so sure about this one though.
The red flag went up immediately when I opened the book and found the first five pages were dedicated to reviews for the previous books. The red flag went up a few more times when, throughout the book, references were constantly made to ‘Book One’ and ‘Book Two’. I have never seen an author refer to their own books through characters in this way. I find it especially strange in Children’s books.
But that aside, what about the rest of the content?
I found the writing a little strange, too simplistic for slightly older children to enjoy, but too long and wordy for the young ‘just started reading’ crowd, and thus, not really appropriate for either group.
The pictures were just photos, some of them with some of the worst Photoshop editing I have ever seen, some just of bananas and oranges, made especially boring since, on my Kindle, they were relegated to the world of black and white. I don’t see these engaging many children, any more than giving them a piece of fruit to play with would anyway.
The message, of eating healthily and getting enough exercise is a mixed bag. On the one hand overuse of the word ‘fat’ seemed to focus more on the characters physical appearance than their health. On the other, part of Ziger’s problem is he gives up swimming and then goes back to it, so it’s not all about food, also, the parts that are about food have this nice theme of ‘eating all the colours of the rainbow’, and going through the fruits and vegetables that cover this rainbow spectrum, which was a nice way to get kids to engage with healthy eating.
Another moral is woven into this story as well, about as subtly as a Great White Shark dancing in a flapper dress, and that is the moral of the evil of violent video games. This is a banner I don’t fly myself, and so I did find it a bit odd that the implication seemed to be that a lot of Ziger’s health problems stemmed from violent video games. Just be wary of this morals presence going in, whether it’s something you agree with and want to present to your children or not is, of course, a personal choice.
On the whole, I’m going to come out with the lazy critical statement, it was okay. A good core concept about healthy eating presented in a below average fashion with some odd peripheral choices.