Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale.
When we first considered putting out a children’s book, and we started the process of working with Mike, it was important to us that the book met certain expectations. Firstly it had to be an engaging story that children would enjoy, and we also felt a story that would delight any parent equally as much, when reading it to their child.
We also believe that books should contain positive advice or messages, which would aid the reader in not only understanding the story, but also understanding themselves and the life they live. To answer this we posed the question, would children take a positive message into their own life, having read this story?
Finally we looked at how the story could be enhanced; this question was answered when author Mike Beale presented us with a selection of drawings for the book, done by Illustrator Maureen Fayle.
The ultimate test of the book came when we gave it to our six year old daughter, and asked her to read it and then give us feedback on her own experience of the book.
Crumble’s Adventures, we are pleased to say passed all our criteria with flying colours. The story which evolves around Crumble, is a charming tale of a small dog who at the start of the book is homeless and alone. Wandering the streets and living off scraps, it is very clear how her existence is one of loneliness and sadness. I think every child has a point in their life where they experience this, especially at that early age where they enter a new school and have to leave their parents at the door, so the start of book struck a deep chord with all children. It can be frightening to enter the start of the real world, and here Crumble reflected all those tiny feelings that many children face.
As the story moves forward, Crumble stumbles by accident on another dog named Alex, and at this point Crumble’s fortunes take a turn for the better. Alex takes the homeless Crumble home, where she is welcomed in and given a good meal, and this is the starting point of a strong friendship, and a sense of belonging. From here on in the books takes up a positive stance as the two dogs develop their friendship and go on many adventures. From our point of view, this shows the importance of family and strong friendship, something that is a very valuable asset to all children in the early stages of their development.
What follows is an engaging tale of the dogs, with very positive messages and a few tense moments that do indeed captivate the imaginations of children. The story is adult enough for parents to comprehend the story and its meaning, yet written is such a delightfully easy to understand way that all children can relate every quickly and easily to the two dogs, and the friendship that strengthens between them. Our main test was our daughter and her understanding of this story, and it passed with flying colours as she really loved the story and became very excited as she followed it through the publishing process.
The story is enhanced by the simply wonderful artwork that is woven throughout the book. The hand sketched illustrations provided by Maureen, contain such wonderful detail that the pictures themselves jump from the page, and it brings a real sense of identity to the characters for the children to relate to and follow.
The book has been formatted in a way that moves away from the large pictured and low print types of books that children start reading with, and carries a similar format to that of a novel for older children, but with larger print and slightly wider spacing. This we felt was an ideal way to bridge the gap between books for younger children, and serves as a way into gaining an insight into the formatting of books for older children. Spliced together with the illustrations, it forms a package that gives of a sense of a step up into a more older approach to reading, and we feel is an ideal way to help children adjust to what will come as they progress into older and more print driven books at a later stage.
In conclusion, Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale, is a simple to follow, well written story that serves as a very positive reading experience for children aged six and above. The story which is fun and exciting, is ideal for either reading to children by an adult, or as a good start for young readers who want to progress into a more print driven type of story. It is beautifully illustrated, with easy to read formatting and larger print, and we feel is an ideal first serious book for young readers.