I think I’ve found the answer: Get a little person involved.
My daughter Isobel is just shy of two now and has loved books since a very early age (she had little choice in the matter as it happens, there are plenty of relatives itching for an excuse to buy children’s books).
But amid the old favourites – Mog, for example, and the Hungry Caterpillar, not to mention pretty much anything by Julia Donaldson – and the newer offerings from Johnny-come-latelys like Peppa Pig, Albert the Pug is a very popular one.
Albert the Pug has ended up in our house because the author, Garry Cook, is a friend of mine. He’s a journalist – but perhaps the most multi-skilled journalist I know. Writer, razor-sharp sub editor, talent documentary photographer and, it turns out, excellent author of children’s books.
Garry doesn’t just write the words, he also does the illustrations too. And maybe it’s only when you know the person who drew a book that you begin to realise how impressive drawing for children is. Perfecting a consistent style throughout a book can’t be easy.
Albert’s first adventure – done in rhyme – involves the ‘hero’ of the story waking up to find his house being broken into by a nasty dog. A chase ensures, with the police turning up and justice being done.
Isobel’s reaction has been to love the illustrations from an early age, before progressing to laughing at sound of the rhymes and pointing at the different characters to now interacting with the story. It’s a book which finds its way off the shelf with remarkably regularity – even when we’ve tried to hide it so she doesn’t get bored with it.
Everyone has a favourite book when they were little. This deserves to be a favourite for many youngsters in the future.
Albert the Pug and the Thief Dog is available via Amazon, as is the second in the series, Albert the Pug and Haunted Castle.