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4.5 out of 5 stars
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My grandson has just turned 3 and when this came up on Amazon Vine I thought it would be a good addition to the books he has at my house.

* What do I think? *
When I read it through before he had a look at, I instantly took a like to the illustrations, Neal Layton has made the story very visual. I particularly liked how on some of the pages only the main part is a vivid colour whilst others are dulled into the backgroup - such as when Stanley is waiting for the train with his family. I like the embossed cover, made it seem really appealing. I also thought the layout of the text was good - some pages went left to right whilst others went down the page and it made it feel different on each page. The story however wasn't to my liking. I found the S alliteration difficult in places such as "Stanley stands on Stockport Station with his stick." Parts of it became a mouthful and required a lot of concentration. Furthermore some of the phrasing was odd, as in "like pretending the stick is a match to catch the world aflame" and "boats ride seaback out on the distance"; they just don't seem to make sense.

* What did my grandson think? *
He is a big fan of lyrical stories such as The Highway Rat or Each Peach Pear Plum (Viking Kestrel Picture Books) and this didn't appeal to him in quite the same way. As he has an active imagination he didn't struggle with the concept of how the stick could mean a range of different things to Stanley such as a dinosaur, a fishing rod, a banana or a whistle but he didn't react as well to the words as I'd imagined he would; even though I read it with enthusiasm. He told me after three readings he really liked the slug but not the monkey (I've no idea why by the way!).

So overall whilst as an adult I'd be looking at giving it 2 stars, he seemed to favour 4 stars. Therefore 3/5 is a compromise.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Before going into much detail, the most important thing to know, in a review of a children's book, is has the child asked to have this read again? Indeed, our little boy has, more than once; which may be all you need to know.

Other than that, the story, though in a well-worn theme, is a thoughtful take on the idea of the imaginative potential of simple objects. This isn't to say that the author lectures the reader on 'the-importance-of-imagination', rather that he reflects back to children, in a way they'd relate to, something of their own nature.

Hegley is a poet and this comes through in his prose, there is a rhythm to the words that I recognized from seeing him perform. It is somewhat different to the usual children's book style, though it does have a lovely lyrical quality.

The illustration may divide people due to its deliberately naive style, it's a style that I appreciate requires a great deal of practise (it's not actually that easy), though it's not one that I enjoy. That said my boy (two and a half) did enjoy it, he talked animatedly about certain pictures and showed a great deal of interest in it.

Despite my own prejudices about the illustration (I must be getting old, it'll be oil paintings of Lancaster bombers for me next), I and my boy both enjoyed reading this together.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This slim but delightful verse story by poet John Hegley
with illustrations by Neal Layton is a small but perfectly
formed treat for little ones. The power of Stanley's vivid
imagination works wonders on a simple stick, turning it
into a whistle, a bannana, a match and a dinosaur (amongst
other transformations). Mr Hegley understands that this
gift of chilhood is a fragile and transient phenomenon which
imbues his narrarive with a subtle sense of magic and pathos.

'Stanley's Stick' begs to be read out loud at bedtime.

Recommended
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I saw performance poet John Hegley live many years ago and he was fabulous. He manipulates language in clever and playful ways using rhymes and alliterations.

I was pleased to see he has finally written for children and Stanley's Stick did not disappoint. It is a simple tale about a boy with a marvellous imagination and a toy stick which is a banana, a ship or a dinosaur. The verse is non rhyming and yet poetic and beautiful. I read it to my two sons aged two and six and they both loved it and had a favourite page or illustration.

Speaking of illustrations, they are a real strong point in the book with clever use of juxtapositions and multi media giving it childlike wistfulness in places, especially the seascapes. With photographic sea and the simple primitive lines of Stanley's face, combined with real wall paper and wet look shimmery sand, the book is a marvel. Neil Layton is an award winning illustrator and he and Hegley make a dream team.

Highly recommended, these could become new classics in children's literature.

I hope he does more, they are really beautiful.
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VINE VOICEon 16 October 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The pictures in this book are absolutely fantastic, the illustrator has done a phenomenal job in bringing Stanley to life and ensuring there is enough detail within the pictures to keep children captivated time after time. Another positive with this story is the fact that there isn't too much writing on each page making it suitable for younger children trying to find their feet with learning to read.

My one slight qualm, and it is slight, is that the story is so quirky it's bordering on odd. Each page tells you about all the things Stanley does with his stick. While one could argue that this promotes a sense of imagination within children, it is also an odd subject matter to say the least.

That being said the child to whom the story was read enjoyed listening to the book and in particular looking at the pictures. As a result I can't do anything but recommend this story!
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VINE VOICEon 31 July 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is about a stick owned by a boy called Stanley. But it is more than a stick because Stanley can make it into whatever he wants it to be through the power of imagination.

The text is full of colour. It starts with a sentence which is full of alliteration. Later the text breaks into all sorts of rhyme with the conventional rhyming couplet to the use of rhyming words littered within the same sentence. Of course you might have expected this anyway given the author is a renowned poet.

Then there are the pictures which are equally great. They are simple, colourful illustrations which include just the subtlest pieces of collage to bring places like Blackpool beach to life. The style reminds me a little of the way the Charlie and Lola books are put together.

To sum up the quote by The Times on the front cover says it all: "Everything a picture book should be."
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on 3 October 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I love John Hegley's poetry which is the main reason I chose Stanley's Stick and I wasn't disappointed at all. When I first read it through I didn't quite get it but since I've read it through a few more times at a slower pace and taken time to really read the rhymes and feel the rhythm I really like it!

It's a simple idea - surely make-pretend is something all little children should play - and Hegley has really captured what it feels like to have a `fantastick' which can be anything you want it to be from a dinosaur to a musical instrument.

The illustrations by Neal Layton are lovely. Deceptively simple as in the background he captures so much detail around the main picture. Stanley's Stick is an excellent introduction to poetry, playtime and the fun which can be had from the everyday items which surround us.
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VINE VOICEon 6 October 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
...I really enjoyed Stanley's Stick!!...I liked the simplistic yet imaginative writing, the illustrations and the questions that you can discuss with the child/children you are reading to such as; Why are 'Starry' and 'Moon' the wrong shapes for Stanley's stick? There's lots of imagination fodder in the illustrations and although I read it with a very imaginative three year old, I'd say the ideal age group to read this with would be four year olds but give or take a year for personal development and understanding. I especially liked the word play Hegley uses and although some of the in-jokes in the text may well be lost on young children, it shouldn't spoil any enjoyment because the words sound so appealing...and the ending is totally 'getable'. A book to inspire small children and their sticks! :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2014
I bought ten, the gave them to every child we went to a party for - aged about 4 - boy or girl. The poetry of the language is gorgeous. And it makes park visits all the more inspiring. Got to love a book about sticks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 September 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Not the best written children's book but lovely pictures, with the bonus of Blackpool Tower as a surprise! Entertained a 4 year old and then followed on with lots a stick related adventures of our own.
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