Title- D.M. Mullan’s Curious Tales: HECTOR
Author- D. M. Mullan (Illustrated by Kirsteen Harris-Jones
Publisher- Tiny Tree Children’s Booka
Publication Date- 22nd July 2021
I was given a copy for free in hopes I’d be enthralled
No one held a gun to me or told me I’d be mauled
If I didn’t find dear Hector great or indeed enjoy each line
So you can be assured, dear reader, these opinions are all mine.
The first book in a new rhyming picture book series from D.M. Mullan and Kirsteen Harris Jones ― welcome to D.M. Mullan’s Curious Tales… Hector van Groat If something is missing, and you’re feeling blue, you could learn from Hector, who feels this way too. This little genius lives in an upside-down boat, and he grunts from his hill like a grumpy old goat. “Hector van Groat needs no-one but Hector, because he is a genius, a crazy inventor”
First of all, I owe D. M. Mullan and @lovebookstours a huge apology. My post review was supposed to be up at the start of the week but I’ve been quite ill and really couldn’t write anything near what this book deserved. Thankfully today I feel rather more human and less like a jumble of angst and so here we are finally!
When this book arrived and I opened it to see the adorable artwork by Kirsteen Harris-Jones, it immediately made me smile. The picture immediately reminded me of Dr. Suess’s Lorax and Fox in Socks style drawings with wide-eyed characters and beautiful line work.
As a librarian, my first thoughts, when I get any new book, is “Would I recommend this book? Who to and why?”
When I read Hector, my first reaction was to call my sister (who is also a librarian) and read it down the phone to her. She was in giggles and when she came over later to see me, we sat down and read it out loud together. (Imagine two grown-ass women sitting down without wine to enjoy a kids book!) We both started thinking of children’s groups we could read it to and school visits and we were both determined to get at least one copy into our libraries.
I love clever rhyming books that have a good rhythm and cadence and you can say out loud. Some kids books have a decent enough rhyming structure but some are just off. Especially when they try to force words to rhyme that REALLY REALLY don’t.
(One tiny niggle is that she does rhyme towel with foul but spells it fowl. As in bird fowl. Is that an American thing?)
Hector is an adorable little genius who invents fun things like chewing gum glue and lie detector machines that lie. But living in an upside-down boat at the top of a hill means he is quite lonely. Hector assumes that he needs no one but that can’t be further from the truth.
I think that this story might resonate with children who have been alone with their parents during lock-down. They might understand how isolated Hector felt, trying to keep himself amused until he was able to meet others.
Some of my favourite children’s books to read are the Kes Gray Oi Frog! series or Dr. Suess’s stories. I like the clever story interwoven in the rhyme and this book fits in right there. It also introduces some new words in a fun and inventive way and so increases the vocabulary as well as providing talking points for adults and kids.
I think Hector and the other curious tales coming soon are going to become firm favourites of both mine and the children we read it to.
This book is every bit as fantastic as Lynley Dodd, Julia Donaldson or even Kes Gray.