Alex T. Smith
(Hodder Children’s Books)

Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock are back for a third adventure, hurrah, and of course Claude once again manages to put himself into precarious situations. A perfectly innocent stroll in the park is disturbed with a encounter with some joggers, a frowned-upon nap in the bushes, an unfortunate episode on the golf course, a heroic rescue and finally a rather improvised and eventful circus performance. But despite all the fun,Claude must return home before the Shinyshoes come back from their day out. And thankfully (or not) there is a rather speedy mode of transport available nearby.

Claude at the Circus is Alex T Smith’s third book in the series after Claude in the City (see my review here) and Claude on Holiday (see my review here). This fast-growing series for newly independent readers has gradually attracted a whole army of admirers and it is easy to see why. The combination of Alex’s talent for writing as well as drawing, his quirky artwork,his retro sense of style and his witty sense of humour create a lovable hero and hugely entertaining and pacy stories that work well both as short stories for independent reading or as a fun read-loud.

Young readers will enjoy the two friends’ antics and Claude’s utter obliviousness at his constant faux-pas and gradual chaos building, while the more grown-up readers will be delighted by some of the quirky details in the illustrations. This time, shock horror, there is even a glimpse of a cheeky tattooed bum! Personally, I love the clothes that Alex draws and I was so pleased to see one of my all-time favourites, i.e. gingham pedal pushers à la Brigitte Bardot, sported by Mrs Shinyshoes.

Young audiences will also have fun looking at the two-coloured illustrations and wacky characters that reside in Claude’s world. One my favourites in this story has to be the park keeper who looks like he has walked straight out of a Jacques Tati movie.
The formulae of the story remains similar from the other two books, which will be welcomed by newly independent readers who often thrive with familiarity and love to read series for this reason.

The blend of the well pitched text, the witty tone of the stories and the zany illustrations have enabled Claude to become a real hit, and it is so very well deserved. There is a Claude 4 on the way too, yippee!

All illustrations Ó Alex T. Smith
Many thanks to Hodder Children’s Books for sending me a review copy of “Claude at the Circus”.