Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Cave by Rob Hodgson (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

We've discussed the subtle art of the 'big twist' many times on this blog and here's a book that demonstrates that storytelling mechanism perfectly. Rob Hodgson's "The Cave".
The twist in this case comes quite close to the end of the book but the slow build up consists largely of a wolf and a pair of eyes.

Those of you familiar with the 'stripped down' styles of folk like Jon Klassen will know what to expect. The story does as much 'leaving to your imagination' as possible. Why is the wolf there? What sort of timid creature owns the pair of eyes you see peeping out from the cave?

Kids of course will love that slow build, as much as adults might see the big twist coming a mile off there's still something quite satisfying about seeing that twist emerge vicariously through the eyes of youngsters.

Wolves will try anything to get their hands on a tasty snack. Even if it means giving away something tastier. We refer to this as the "Wile E. Coyote School of Economics"
The wolf in this story is, alas, very much playing to character. He's obviously a bad lot. He spends a lot of the time drooling, licking his lips and frowning with that "I'm a baddie" look all over his slobbering chops. But will the wolf be triumphant? Or will that big twist see him off (we know what kids will be rooting for, even if Charlotte was actually cheering for the wolf!)

Dedicated and cunning. The wolf is in this for the long haul
Obviously we're not going to ruin the twist, but "The Cave" contains some satisfyingly subtle layers to peel apart before the big reveal happens. In places it feels like it's taking a nice anti-bullying stance, there are elements of confronting your fears in there but most of all pretty much everyone enjoys seeing a bully get their comeuppance in children's stories, don't they?

Everyone will be curious to see what emerges from the cave above all else. Kids will love the child-friendly artwork and spotting those worms in each frame, and we really thought this was a great treatment of the old "Big Bad Wolf" trope.

Charlotte's favourite bit: The wolf's levels of preparation for trapping his prey. He even carries donuts and extra sprinkles around!

Daddy's favourite bit: A great twist, a satisfying end, and a wonderfully artistic look and feel, absolutely brill.

(Kindly supplied for review).

"The Cave" by Rob Hodgson is released on 4th May 2017, published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books. 

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