As an ex-English teacher and literacy consultant I’m always delighted when a brilliant children’s book comes my way for review and Dougal Daley: It’s Not My Fault by Jackie Marchant, illustrated by Loretta Schauer is one such book. My thanks to Faye Rogers for including me in the celebrations of Dougal Daley: It’s Not My Fault.
Dougal Daley: It’s Not My Fault was published by Wacky Bee Books on 4th April 2017 and is available for purchase here.
Dougal Daley: It’s Not My Fault
I, Dougal Daley, am dead! Ok I’m not actually dead. But if I’m not careful I soon will be.
In this first book, football-loving Dougal Daley finds himself at risk from the mysterious creature living in the garden shed. Nobody believes him but as a precaution, he sets upon writing his will – rewarding those who help him and disinheriting those who get on his bad side. Meanwhile, as limbs and windows alike are broken by rogue footballs and unhinged canines, Dougal finds himself in all sorts of trouble. . .and NONE of it is his fault!
My Review of Dougal Daley: It’s Not My Fault
Dougal has a problem. It’s in his shed and worrying him so much he’s writing his will!
I loved meeting Dougal. He’s an absolute star. I did wonder whether my middle aged female identity was affecting my judgement but I’m convinced that Dougal Daley: It’s Not My Fault will appeal equally well to children in the 7-11 age group as it did to me, because Dougal says things that all children think and feel at some points in their lives.
I liked the variety of textual approach so that there is never too much text at once for readers of all abilities to get to grips with. There’s plenty of white space, super illustrations and a wide variety of fonts in the notes and messages from Dougal’s friends which mean there’s something for everyone. I do have a slight qualm about some notes in entirely upper case or random mixed case as that’s a pet issue for me when teaching children to write, because it is better to model the correct versions, but these aspects are well separated form the main text. The illustrations are perfectly in tune with the text so that they add an extra layer of enjoyment to the read.
The plot is brilliant. It’s exciting and interesting. The scrapes Dougal gets into will resonate with all children, from accidentally breaking things to getting into trouble at school and falling out with friends. Indeed, there are loads of themes that could help struggling children discuss their own issues such as death, friendships, bullying, school and family relationships. That’s not to say Dougal Daley: It’s Not My Fault is preachy or dull – far from it. The humour is wonderful, especially those moments around the dog.
Dougal himself is a triumph of a character. He is accident prone, funny and charming – even at his worst. I thought Dougal Daley really was a superhero!
About Jackie Marchant
Dougal Daley was inspired by a messy bedroom and a random question from my son about writing a will. Dougal Daley has been huge fun to write about – you wouldn’t believe the disasters that happen around him (none of which are his fault of course)! When I’m not writing I love doing school visits and creative writing workshops. I also take time away from the writing world looking after guide dogs while their owners are away.
About Loretta Schauer
I originally studied performing arts and have a degree in Dance Performance – well you never know when you need a quick pirouette! I also worked in practical conservation for a long time, and spent many years battling balsam, identifying lichen, and searching for creepy crawlies before I picked up my pencils and paints and began exploring illustrating and writing for children. In 2011 I won the Waterstone’s ‘Picture This’ competition and I now illustrate full time. However I am still happiest noodling around for fossils and shells on the beach!
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