Review Blog

Jan 16 2011

The tall man and the twelve babies by Tom Niland and Kilmeny Niland

cover image

Ill. by Deborah Niland. Allen and Unwin, 2010. ISBN 9781742371153.
(Age 2-6) Recommended. A zany picture book that will get children asking questions, The tall man and the twelve babies tells the story of six baby boys all called Alistair, and six baby girls all called Charlene. They all live with a very tall man in a tiny apartment in a big city. When they are happy they laugh at the same time and when they are angry they all yell at the same time. One day when the tall man stepped outside with the Charlenes the door slams shut. How will he get back to the Alistairs?
This is a hilarious tale of being a parent, but in this case, the tall man is the sole carer for the twelve babies and what antics they get up to. It is told in simple prose and short sentences with the use of bold print, large letters and capitals to emphasise words.
Beautifully illustrated by Deborah Niland, the little round faces of the twelve babies are a joy to look at. The drawings of the tall man, with his long skinny legs and expressive face, wonderful multicoloured curls, spotted scarf and striped shirt give him a very distinct character. The humour of the story really comes to life with the drawings of the tall man when he tries to get back into the apartment through a tiny flap. Looking at the Charlenes pulling on his legs and the Alistairs pulling the other way made me laugh out loud.
The delightful illustrations and the unique story make this a very memorable book to read aloud and talk about.
Pat Pledger

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