24th January '17
This bright paperback picture book tells the story of Dylan the dog, who decides one morning he's going to play shops. His main motivator is to make his till go "ding" when somebody buys something. He doesn't sell anything and as the story goes on, his friends Purple Puss, Jolly Otter and Titchy Chick join in with their own shops...only they still haven't sold anything. Until crotchety owl arrives and buys everything from Dylan's shop: he is delighted that his till went "ding" - until realised someone very special is missing! Dylan goes to see owl to get him back.
This is a very colourful and vivid book; there are large illustrations on every page, most incorporating the full page. The detailed images help demonstrate meaning to the words as we read and allow me to pick the relevant image out as we go along. My one year old was fascinated with the pictures, after we'd finished reading she took it off into a corner to examine the pictures again; she frequently pointed and asked what things were. My two year old really enjoyed them too and spent time counting the smaller items, like the pom-poms or socks. There's plenty of opportunities to pick up on colours and work on vocabulary.
It's a sweet story that incorporates lots of different themes - from friendship to feelings; there are plenty of jumping off points for further discussion, such as why Dylan is sad.
My one year old wasn't interested in the plot line at all; my two year old got a bit bored on the first read during the day and wandered off. We read it again at bedtime and although he did read until the end this time his main interest was talking about what was going on in the pictures than following the story-line exclusively. I think the book is best suited to 3+ - though it can be used with younger children if you're willing to be flexible rather than just running through the story from start to finish. I think my toddlers will get more out of it with every read as they get a bit older. Both of them - especially my son - enjoyed joining in with the "ding". There were lines repeated several times, which is perfect for young children and allowed my children the opportunity to join in as they knew what was coming.
There's a ladybird that consistently appears throughout the book (every double-page spread) which encourages the reader to get involved more with the story e.g. What would you buy from Dylan's shop? It's a brilliant feature that I really like; it provides useful prompts for talking round the story instead of just reading it verbatim. It encourages children to interact with the story and make links to real life. It was more useful to me with toddlers than most of the text, as I could chat about what we were seeing rather than keeping the focus on what was written down.
There is an awful lot going on colour-wise so some children could find it over-stimulating - though I found it only an asset for my toddlers.
All in all, it's a vibrant, fun book with tonnes to talk about as a result of the read and a decent plot. The illustrations are beautiful and kept my toddlers engaged in the book. We will revisit this book frequently - especially as they get a bit older. I'm going to get Dylan the Doctor for my son's birthday in a few months; I think he'll be able to full appreciate the stories by then. It was a brilliant book to win from the TOPPSTA giveaway; we will certainly be looking out for more from Guy Parker-Rees.