One thing we know about a book series is that it is very, very hard to maintain consistency in what works, while providing new content. Yesterday I wrote about Claude at the Beach, which I view as a modern classic. Parents will be reading it to their children for many years to come. But just as with other, older series’ children’s books (think the Curious George series), there are those titles that just don’t hit make a hit. If Claude at the Beach is a home-run, Claude on the Slopes is a bunt.
It’s still the same, cute little dog, but he seems much more self-aware and even self-confident, beginning his adventure by shouting “Oooh! Aren’t you handsome?” while looking in a mirror. It seems to go downhill (pun intended) from there. Claude joins a snowball fight. Getting overly excited, he throws a boot, hitting a child in the head with it (thankfully, he apologizes). Later, after being told to keep quiet by a ski rescue worker, Claude apologizes in what is almost an insincere manner:
Claude dragged his foot around in circles and said, “Sorry.”
Then Claude told Sidney Snood how nice he thought his mustache was.
This seemed to stop Sidney Snood from being angry, and he smiled a big smile.
Add this passage to the drawing of Claude batting his eyes, and we have a ‘trying-to-get-out-of-trouble’ apology, rather than a sincere one.
Claude’s loud voice creates an avalanche which topples Sidney Snood and covers Mr. Bobblysock, and it’s Claude who comes to their rescue, having learned from Mr. Snood, just how to dig a person out of the snow.
It’s cute, and it’s often nice to have a different adventure of a familiar, much-loved character lying around for something a little different at bed-time reading, but the story feels forced, as though author Alex T. Smith couldn’t quite come up with the right ingredients to fill the 96 pages, and Claude seems just a little too troublesome, rather than adorable.
Looking for a good book? If you’re a Claude and Mr. Bobblysocks fan, you’ll want this for your collection. If you are looking for a new children’s book, go get Claude at the Beach instead.
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Claude on the Slopes
author: Alex T. Smith
artist: Alex T. Smith
publisher: Hodder Children’s Books/Peachtree Publishers
hardcover, 96 pages