Play by Jez Alborough

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Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406373073
(Ages: 2-5) Play features Bobo the Chimp from the immensely popular Hug. The simple story is told mainly through illustrations, with limited text (some speech bubbles with one to two word utterances). Bobo's mother is attempting to get Bobo to settle down to bed but the sun is still up and Bobo is determined to play with his friends. He repeatedly sneaks off when his mother's back is turned. When the sun does set, Bobo is alone and scared. 'Mummy' he calls in a loud, shaky voice. Sighted and flown home by his pelican friend, Bobo is delivered safely into the arms of his worried mother. The double page where Bobo and his mother are intertwined in sleep is gorgeous and portrays a real sense of safety and comfort, which young children who enjoy snuggling with a loved one will identify with. The next day Bobo wakes early with the sun and is filled with excitement for the day ahead. 'Play', he says. Following the illustrations across the page is lots of fun and the vivid illustrations bring the actions and emotions of the characters to life. The use of simple words makes this great for emerging independent readers and for younger ones who will be able to tell the story using only the illustrations. There is a touch of moral teaching here about listening to your parents and keeping safe but it is more a celebration of every day adventure and the uncrushable spirit of young children. It may also open up conversations about the cycle of day and night. The artwork really is something special, especially as Alborough has perfected these characters in previous books Hug, Tall and Yes. A must for all Bobo the chimp lovers but it will also be enjoyed by those who haven't met him before.
Nicole Nelson