Sophie's Adventures (by Dick King-Smith)

When my sons were small, I was delighted to discover a large number of books by the late Dick King-Smith, who was a farmer before he became a writer. Many of his books feature anthropomorphic animals, and are very cleverly written. But my favourite series was that about Sophie, the small but determined girl who wants to be a farmer when she grows up.

Somehow we managed to lose our copies of the books, but I started collecting them again recently. And when it became clear that a friend's daughter would enjoy having them read aloud to her, I decided to buy a copy of 'Sophie's Adventures', which is an omnibus edition of the first three of the books in the series - two of which I had not been able to find.

In 'Sophie's Snail', the first book in the series, we meet four-year-old Sophie who already has a strong character and a deep love for animal life. We also meet her amusing twin brothers Matthew and Mark who tease her but are very fond of their sister, deep down. Sophie starts to save up for her farm, and adopts a wide variety of small creatures from her garden which she keeps in a shed.

In 'Sophie's Tom', second in the series, Sophie meets a black cat on her fifth birthday, which also happens to be Christmas Day. Her parents do not in the least want a cat, but Sophie has other ideas... Sophie starts school in this book, too, and has some amusing clashes with her teacher and classmates.

In 'Sophie hits Six', the book which I did have already, Sophie gets more used to school, visits a farm show, and works on persuading her parents that the family should have a dog...

There is lots of great characterisation, in these books, with humour that appeals to adults as well as the more earthy kind for children. There's even some gentle educational material about farms and animals in general.

 The reading level is not particularly high; a fluent reader of seven or eight or so would probably enjoy these books, but they're so well written that I think they're much more fun read aloud to a child of about four or older.

Definitely recommended.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 13th September 2011

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