20th September '16
The Great Aaa-Ooo! is a picture book for readers aged 3–5+. The plot follows the animals of the forest as they come together to try to find out which creature is making a terrifying sound and keeping them awake at night.
The reader is introduced to the various animals and the sounds they make, and this creates a level of interactivity for young readers. The pace of the story and of the animal arrivals accelerates until they are not just arriving one by one, but in a group. As the back cover of the book warns, there is mild peril in the story, especially as the ‘monster’ gets closer to the characters.
The story is well rounded, with good visual clues and a hidden twist in it for you to spot. There is also a lot of humour in the way the creatures deal with their shared problem. The question of who is making the noise is resolved nicely and shows the animals’ kindness. As a bonus, there is a final laugh for you as you turn the last page.
The ‘Aaa-Ooo’ call is repeated throughout, and this familiar refrain aids the flow of the story and the expectation of what’s coming next, as well as giving children plenty of opportunity to join in and echo the monster’s calls. Some of the lines rhyme with the sound to add to the effect, and other rhymes aid the rhythm of the text. Interesting words are used to convey details of the environment, such as ‘rackety wood’, or give extra characterisation, such as ‘Bear grumbled up the tree’, and there is plenty of alliteration (e.g. ‘horrible howl’).
The language helps to highlight the sense of movement in the story, where the animals actually clamber up the branches of the tree. Here, branches twang, twigs snap and leaves fly as a result of the creatures’ actions. The author also makes good use of spelt-out sound effects which fit in punchily between the illustrations.
The book’s art style is very appealing, with a two-dimensional, cut-out presentation. It has the look of hand-crafted layers of paper, with interesting textures and patterns. All of the pages are attractive double-page spreads, giving an expansive, landscape view of the scenes. The characters’ features are comically exaggerated which adds to their charm: Owl looks like a quotation mark, Bear is very rotund (like Winnie-the-Pooh), and Moose has a giant wingspan of antlers.
The background is printed in black throughout, as the action takes place in the woods at night. This stark contrast makes the colours appear all the more vibrant. The white text also stands out, rendered in varying sizes and in a loose, flowing font. When the noise in the forest becomes extra loud, the text can fill the entire page with massive capital letters. The paper stock the book is printed on is quite thick and a little rough, which allows you to turn the pages easily.
The Great Aaa-Ooo! has entertaining text and dialogue throughout, as well as exciting action and attractive illustration. It is a book that parents will very much enjoy reading with their children and it would be a great addition to your bookshelf because it is full of humour and likeable characters.