Brilliant Books for Kids
  • By Tom King
  • |
  • 12th Aug 2011
  • |
  • ★★★

Everyone remembers storytime – that happy time at the end of the day when the hard work of colouring in and sticking bits of paper to other bits of paper could be safely put behind you. And, as soaring audiobook sales show, you never grow out of the lovely warm feeling someone reading to you brings.This is essentially the gist of Brilliant Books for Kids. Every day performers from Tall Stories children’s theatre read six different books chosen by Toby Mitchell, one of the artistic directors of the company and co-creator of stage shows such as The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom. And it’s a really sweet, simple concept – helping you and your children wade through the raft of children’s books to find the ones that really stick out.The problem is that it isn’t quite enough for Fringe children’s theatre. The readers try hard but with no props except a couple of books it’s not easy for them to grab and keep their audience’s attention. The younger children did seem fairly engaged, a few brave souls even chirped up with their opinions of the stories, but others were easily distracted and one even took a nap. The choice between distraction and rapt attention seems to depend entirely on the choice of story. Some, like The Cow That Laid An Egg or The Lamb Who Came For Dinner, kept the audience listening while others, such as Manfred the Baddie, fell a bit flat.Of today’s selection, my favourites were undoubtedly The Interrupting Chicken, a delightful little book based around a simple premise that was funny for kids and grown-ups alike, and The Adventures of Dish and Spoon, the almost-melancholy story of what happened after these characters left the nursery rhyme. This is a gentle, calming show and it’s undeniably pleasant to be closeted snugly away from the rain, being read to by two talented storytellers. But it feels like one more dimension, whether puppets, props or music, could have made a cosy-enough experience something a little more special.You might pick up ideas for books that your kids will treasure, but they aren’t going to remember the show itself. Lovely and comfortable as Brilliant Books… is, it still feels like Tall Stories have fallen slightly short.

Reviews by Tom King

Underbelly, Cowgate

Lucy Farrett: Lois

★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

She Sells Sea Shells

★★★★
Summerhall

A Fortunate Man

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square / Underbelly, Cowgate

The Cat's Mother

★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4

Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

Nigel Slater’s Toast

★★★

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The Blurb

It’s story time! A selection of fun quirky picture books that children and adults will enjoy equally, chosen by Tall Stories co-director Toby Mitchell and exhaustively tested on his own son. Are you sitting comfortably? www.brilliantkidsbooks.blogspot.com

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