Review Blog

Feb 15 2016

Ralf by Jean Jullien

cover image

Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2016. ISBN 9781847808189
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Fire, Dogs, Animals, Pets, Family. This unusual family pet, Ralf, gets into many places he is not welcome. He is found in the bath when Mum is taking a shower, under Dad's feet when he is ironing, in between Mum and Dad when they go to bed, lying across the family as they watch television. Dad orders him out, and so he goes, off to his kennel where he can sleep all alone. Here everything is very quiet, but Ralf smells something, and realises that the house is on fire. He tries to get back inside but cannot get through the little door, stretching his body as he wiggles through. He runs upstairs but cannot wake anyone, so decides that he will get the firemen. They arrive in the nick of time, and Ralf's elongated body makes a superb rescue slide for them to get from their window to the ground. After this Ralf is welcome everywhere, and his elongated body is enough reason for them to buy a bigger house.
Gwendal le Bec and Jean Juillien have collaborated to produce Ralf, and it is hoped that they will produce more stories of this complexity, layering stories of families and their pets alongside fun and adventure and a heart stopping moment when the family is saved by the dog. Deceptively simple, the text is supported by a wondrous illustrative technique, with bold colours, black line drawings and cartoon like words usually shouted at Ralf.
Fran Knight

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