Alex T. Smith
(Hodder Children’s Books)

Claude, the lovable beret-wearing dog, and his best friend Sir Bobblysock are back for another adventure, hurrah! Once more, as soon as his owners Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes are off to work, the duo are ready to go off on a new outing. They decide to go on their first ever holiday, and what seems to be a rather normal day at the seaside at first with ice-creams, sunbathing and sandcastle competitions, turns out rather eventful when Claude first ends up involved in a rescuing someone from a shark attack and then finds himself part of a treasure-seeking pirate crew! When they finally discover the treasure, they find themselves not to be the only ones looking to keep it. But one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure and Claude finds himself saving the day again, and still manages to be back home before Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes notice anything is astray … almost!

I loved Claude’s first adventure, Claude in the City, and I was so looking forward to another adventure from the stylish pug. All the ingredients that made the first Claude adventure a success are back in this second volume, and more. First, I loved that Claude on Holiday starts in the similar way to Claude in the City. Young readers respond positively to repetition and familiarity, and the tone of these first few pages is reminiscent of how a superhero story would start. You know, à la Superman or Spiderman, with the main character starting as the anti-hero until he goes through his transformation. And this fits perfectly because Claude, as we know, is no ordinary dog, and he does live an extraordinary life!

Claude and Sir Bobblysock again find themselves in some wacky and funny situations to the delight of readers. It is what I love most about the Claude books: the trademark British mix of the of farcical situations and the stoicism of its characters in the face of such situations, especially Sir Bobblysock!

The quirky illustrations, again using a palette of three colours only (white, black and red) ooze mischief and fun. The 1950s retro chic style is back in this second tome too, which I love, especially Naughty Nora’s amazing hairdo! The artwork is teamed with witty text, and both work incredibly well together. The joy of the Claude books is that  they work on two levels, entertaining both adult and child readers differently. The children will laugh whole-heartedly at the silliness of some of the situations, and adults won’t be able to stifle a laugh when coming across the particularly Carry on-esque episode of the lifeguard and the beach balls!

Claude on Holiday  has particular resonance for me because of Claude’s hilarious attempts at speaking French: Excusez-moi, ‘ave you une glace à flavour of juicy bone? (I am ashamed to say conversations between my children and I are often very similar, starting in French and finishing in English!) and I just love this last page!

I cannot recommend Claude on Holiday enough. Alex T.Smith manages to team up a quirky illustration style with an equally original and witty text and the result is as glorious as Claude in the City, with again the right balance of a retro ambiance with a modern storyline.

With its beach theme, it will be a great holiday read for newly independent readers, who will enjoy the heavily illustrated text yet paperback-style format, but will also make a hilarious family read-aloud.

Claude on Holiday just cannot fail to be a great success!

All illustrations © Alex T. Smith

Many thanks to Hodder Children’s Books for providing a review copy of “Claude on Holiday”.

Don’t miss Alex’s Fabulous Five feature tomorrow, it is going to be a good one!