Book review

Nicholas by Renee Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempe (1960)

If you can't actually go out to play with Nicholas I think the next best thing must be to read about his exploits. It isn't that he embarks purposefully on wild adventures. Quite the contrary, on the face of it his days are as ordinary as yours or mine. It is just that when you view 'ordinary' through the eyes of a small and often puzzled but always exuberant boy, everything suddenly looks quite different...even the walk home from school every afternoon:

When I came out of school today I followed a little dog down the road. He looked lost and he was all on his own and I felt very sorry for him. I thought that little dog would be pleased to have a friend, and I went to quite a lot of bother to catch him. He didn't seem to be all that keen on going home with me...

Well, that's not much of a surprise to us, but Nicholas is a bit mystified. And so he is with his mother's reaction too:

You'll never believe this, I bet, but when I got home Mum wasn't particularly pleased to see Rex. In fact she wasn't at all pleased.

Actually, it isn't just Mum. Dad's a bit unpredictable too. In fact, come to think of it, so is Teacher. And just about every other adult that Nicholas comes across.

On the other hand, he knows exactly where he is when he's dealing with his friends:

'Hey, look at Nicholas!' said Geoffrey. 'He looks a right twit with that bunch of flowers!'
'You're jolly lucky I'm carrying these flowers or I'd thump you!' I said.
'Give them to me,' said Alec. 'I don't mind holding them while you thump Geoffrey.' So I gave Alec my bunch of flowers, and Geoffrey thumped me. We had our fight, and then I said time was getting on, so we stopped.

Life could be so simple...

Hugely enjoyable collection of short stories that work on all levels to please stoical teacher, bemused parent, young reader alike. Highly recommended.

What can I read next?

If you are comfortable in Nicholas' world, you might like to have a look at some of Hazel Green's exploits, written by Odo Hirsch:

Or you might like to have a look at the den that the boys build in this lovely collection of stories by Clive King:

Or perhaps you would rathe meet the heroine created by Henrietta Branford:

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