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Wednesday, 18 January 2017


Author and Illustrator: Jane Hissey
Publisher: Hutchinson's Children's Books 1996, reprinted by Scribblers 2013

My three year old daughter has developed a fear of 'Old Brown' (the owl in Beatrix Potter's Squirrel Nutkin). She was telling me today that she doesn't like owls. We got this book out as some owl therapy. 'Hoot' tells the story of a group of cuddly toys in bed at night, who wake to hear an unexplained noise. As the toys ponder what the noise might be, odd socks appear around the room and a soft toy owl in a blue apron flies down from the top of the cupboard. The innovative owl explains that her nest of socks has fallen from the cupboard, 
so the other toys help her to raise a new bobble hat nest into the air. 

This is a classic Jane Hissey book; soft quiet illustrations with lots of depth and a narrative about kindness and working together. Hissey's work seems if it's time in some respects, sat alongside the more garish, loud children's literature of the 2010s, where subplots  are common ( one to please, entertain the parents, another for the children). Hissey's work is more sincere and gag -free; it speaks to the imagination of children so beautifully. There's no exposition as to why the toys 'come to life' , they are just 'real', and I love that. The toys adventure through their days, using props from daily life in a resourceful way. In the process, the answers to everyday phenomena are realised, 'why do we always have so many odd socks lying around?' for example. 

Hoot is a book that will captivate the 3-5 year old and Jane Hissey's Old Bear stories in general model imaginative play beautifully, highly recommended. 

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