Sophie's Adventures (by Dick King-Smith)

One of my favourite children’s authors is the late Dick King-Smith. He wrote many amusing and enjoyable books, but my favourites, by far, are those written about a small girl called Sophie. She is four years old in the first book, but has already decided to be a ‘lady farmer’ when she grows up. She’s unconventional and outspoken, and altogether delightful.

I have read the Sophie series to small friends, usually taking several sessions for each of the six books. However my three-year-old grandson has an almost endless capacity for books. When I started reading him ‘Sophie’s Adventures’, the omnibus edition containing the first three books in the series, he kept asking for ‘another chapter’, so I read the entire thing over the course of about two days. I was only allowed to stop at the end of each individual book.

The three books included are ‘Sophie’s Snail’, ‘Sophie’s Tom’ and ‘Sophie hits Six’. We see Sophie’s progress towards her aim, as she gradually acquires quite a menagerie of animals: woodlice and a snail at first, but her stock gradually increases, rather to the dismay (at times) of her parents. She has older twin brothers called Matthew and Mark, who tease her but are basically benign, even if they’re more interested in football than animals.

Over the course of the book, Sophie becomes very close to her great-great aunt Al, who lives in the Scottish highlands. She starts school, where she’s disappointed not to have any farming lessons, and where she considers most of the children to be ‘mowldy, stupid and assive’, as she terms it. She cultivates friendships with one or two boys who can be useful to her, but she’s not a manipulative or selfish child; just single-minded.

The writing is good, with some parts that are more amusing for adults reading the book than for the intended audience. It makes such a good read-aloud that I assume it was intended that way, for children who are ready for short chapter books with regular line drawings. Of course slightly older fluently reading children could tackle it for themselves, but some might not want to read about a girl who is only four at the start of the series.

Very highly recommended.

Review copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

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