Claude in the Country, by Alex T. Smith (Apr. 2016, Peachtree Publishers), $12.95, ISBN: 9781561459186
Recommended for ages 7-10
Claude is a beret-wearing housedog, living with his human family, Mr. and Mrs. Shinyshoes, and his best friend, a red striped sock named Mr. Bobblysock. One day, they decide to go on a walk in the country and find themselves at Woollybottom Farm. Spending the day helping Mrs. Cowpat, the farmer, turns into quite an education for Claude as he washes pigs (giving them quite the pampering), checks out competitive vegetable competitions, and his chased by a bull! Will Claude and Mr. Bobblysock go country, or will they go back home when the day is done?
The Claude books by Alex T. Smith were originally published in the UK; the first, Claude in the City, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2012. I’m always happy to see a good intermediate series hit bookshelves, so I’m thrilled that this series is coming to US audiences. I received my ARC from the Peachtree Publishers booth at PLA, where the rep talked the book up so much, I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. Claude’s adorable, and seems to have a habit of meandering into situations where he happily dives into new experiences. Mr. Bobblysock is there as a companion, but tends to be pretty sleepy, so Claude takes the lead.
Animal fiction always does well for me, as does humor, so the combination of the two, with the adorably cartoony two-color art from Alex Smith, seals the deal. I just found out that Disney Junior UK has picked up Claude for an animated series, so let’s see how he fares on our shores, and maybe we’ll get some more Claude in our future. This is a fun beginner chapter book series for kids who are ready to start testing the waters beyond Easy Readers. Booktalk them and display them with your Mercy Watson and Leroy Ninker books; pit Claude against Bad Kitty to see whose adventures are more hilarious!
Check out more of Alex T. Smith’s art on his author webpage, including an adorable 90th birthday wish for the Queen of England.