Claude is an adorable young fiction character created by talented author/illustrator, Alex T Smith. Claude is a dog or more precisely, as we are told in the book, ‘a small, plump dog who wears a beret and a very dashing jumper.’
Claude in the Country is the 4th in the series. However, it can be read as a stand alone book. The stories do not have to be read in order.
Claude and his trusty companion Sir Bobblysock (who is of course a sock) decide to spend the day in the countryside to try and overcome Claude’s boredom. It’s not long before they stumble across a farm and meet a charming farmer. Young children will love the fact that she is called ‘Mrs Cowpat’. There is a country fair taking place on her farm that afternoon and Mrs Cowpat has a lot to do. Claude and Sir Bobblysock help. They collect eggs; round up sheep; exercise the horses; and wash the pigs. Then the fair starts. However, one of the judges is chased by a very angry bull. Claude saves the day by lassoing the bull and capturing it. After all the excitement, Claude and Sir Bobblysock return home for a well-earned snooze.
The series is brilliant for reading aloud to younger children in foundation stage and Key Stage 1. It is also ideal for those children who are beginning to read independently and gaining their reading stamina and confidence. It provides an answer to the much needed step from picture books to longer reads.
Children will laugh out loud at Claude’s antics and roll their eyes at Sir Bobblysock’s feeble excuses for not doing things, such as having a stiff knee.
The illustrations are fresh and funny, with a retro feel. Alex T Smith uses a strict palette of black, grey, white, red and pink. The text and illustrations work perfectly together, and there’s a great sense of comic timing. The visual humor, which is sophisticated, is particularly appealing to the adults who are sharing these stories with children.