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Meg is a witch who lives with her cat, Mog, and Owl. This is the latest in a lovely series of picture books by author Helen Nicoll and illustrator Jan Pienkowski.
In other books in the series they travel around the world and beyond, but Meg Goes to Bed describes an evening/night at home.
Meg isn't the most competent witch and her spells normally go a little bit wrong, landing her, Mog and Owl in sticky situations which they have to find a way out of. Tonight, a spell to make spaghetti for tea produces a pan full of worms who wind their way round the trio before wriggling out of the door, leaving nothing to do but go to bed hungry. Mog and Owl go out again to look for some food.
Like other books in the series, this is a picture book which offers pleasures to readers and listeners of various ages. The words are mostly very short and simple, and the occasional longer word is often one which children will have come across, such as "tomatoes" and "spaghetti". The story is quite short, which allows a bit of time for talking about Jan Pienkowski's pictures which are my 3 year old's favourite aspect of the book (and mine too). They are colourful and witty, and there are extra things for curious children to look for, such as a couple of worms still wriggling out of the door and window while the trio wonder where supper has gone. For children just beginning to read themselves, the simple words should make the book accessible. The words and pictures are integrated - "So they went up to bed" is printed one word at a time on each step of the staircase.
Food is very important in these books, and there is always a sit down meal, which the kids enjoy reading about.
The quirky charm of the pictures makes them attractive for adults who will probably have to read them again and again. When we read this one, our sons always want another Meg and Mog story or three from those in our growing collection.
We enjoyed this book a lot but there are several even better ones in the series - the boys' favourites include Meg at the Zoo and Mog in the Fog.
This review first appeared in a slightly different form at www.thebookbag.co.uk
Format: Paperback Publisher: Puffin, October 2010 ISBN: 9780 141 331232 rrp £5.99; current Amazon price £4.49
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