Illustrated by Jamie Smart (mega-creative genius!!)
For ages 5+
Hurrah! A new graphic novel series for 5-7 year olds by the legendary Jamie Smart! I’m so overjoyed. My absolute go to for this age range has been the much-loved Narwhal & Jelly series, but the only problem with this is that the super amazing Ben Clanton only publishes 1 a year! I know!!!!
My book club children are always asking when, when, when is the next one coming out so we can have it in book club! Hence, when I let them know we are going to talk about and have fun with a graphic novel today their eyes widened and they gasped saying ‘Narwhal and Jelly’????!!!!! Soothing their little hearts that ‘Narwhal and Jelly: A Super Scary Narwhalloween’ isn’t publishing until 12th October, I took out my new find… ‘Max & Chaffy: Welcome to Animal Island’ by Jamie Smart - THE creator of the global graphic novel phenomenon series for kids: ‘Bunny vs Monkey’ and ‘Looshkin’, both of which I have donated to the school library, although you’ll be lucky to ever find one (the Head Teacher has even emailed reminders to parents on a few occasions to return graphic novels - I wholeheartedly approve of graphic novels as part of a child’s reading journey, most kids love graphic novels)!!!!!
So, readers, welcome to the high-colour, bouncy, bubbly, cute and clever world of Max & Chaffy. This the first of 3 books publishing this year and there is also a fabulous kid-centric website www.findchaffy.com filled with all sorts of fun; Book 2 ‘Max & Chaffy: The Great Cupcake Mystery’ and Book 3 ‘Max & Chaffy: Search for the Ice Chaffy’ are publishing on 3rd August and 2nd November respectively.
About the book
The cover of this first adventure introduces us to the protagonist - a young child called Max, and an extremely cute bunny-hopper-type character called Chaffy, who together are bounding about the beach on Animal Island seemingly having lost of fun. This is a story told in full technicolour, sunshine, warmth and a few rainbows here and there for added serotonin/dopamine-enhancing effect. There are a multitude of characters in this series… only one of them is grumpy (some of the time). It’s a buzz!
The story begins with the Boggle family-of-three taking a boat trip across the sea to Animal Island where Max’s dad is to become the new lighthouse keeper. Max’s mum is introduced to the readers as a naturalist, someone who likes to learn about plants and animals. Max is a mixed-heritage kid; dad is brown-skinned and mum is white-skinned. Max’s favourite thing is to find things, to be helpful. Sounds good to me. It’s not called 'Animal Island' for nothing. The Chief Constable is a moose, Orlando the pilot is a pig, Crumbles the baker is a mallard duck, and so on. The children and I were hooked from the get-go.
You might think that it’s impossible to read a graphic novel out loud to a group of children, but you absolutely can as long as you are prepared to be animated and fun with the text, the vocalisation of the characters and the onomatopoeia. We always have a recap about the graphic novel genre before diving in e.g. the format and layout, the purpose of the speech bubbles. I’d say I read almost half of the book in about 20 minutes, pausing to look for Chaffy in the fun search and find spreads before we went onto our creative book-based activity.
The story has an overwhelming theme of being helpful. Max and his new found friend, Chaffy, are champions as finding lost items and reuniting them with their owners all over the island. The only problem they can’t seem to find the answer to where Chaffy belongs! With a jolly sense of adventure and multiple mini-mysteries to solve, children who find highly illustrated texts more engaging to read will love this series - after all reading for pleasure grows confident readers. Heartwarming and a celebration of friendship and community. It’ll turn any frown upside down!!
Thanks to Jamie Smart et al, there was no need for me to create a book-based activity from scratch for you all this week, because available on their website is this super fun inspiring drawing sheet. All the children had a go and we had some fantastic Chaffies... Indian heritage inspired, rainbow designs, bows, and more. There are lots of examples on the sheet of how to draw features for any children who might like some ideas too. Really super! I also found Jamie Smart's Max & Chaffy draw-along video on YouTube, so have popped it below the PDF download link.
Download a fun FREE design-your-own Chaffy activity sheet
About the creator
Jamie Smart (author:illustrator)
Jamie studied art at college for four years, but it was just an excuse to practise drawing animals with boggly-eyes. He drew loads of comics but eventually started doing actual books. His favourite things to draw are cats, skulls, pigs and cakes (these are also his favourite things in life). His worst things to draw are cars, football boots, horses and bats (these are also his least favourite things in life. Except horses. And bats). Jamie lives in Kent, just south of London. (Source: David Fickling Books)
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Publication date: 4 May 2023
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