It’s a hardhearted parent who can resist the charms of the cheeky and yet irrefutably lovable Slinky Malinki. In fact, I think that adults might be just as enthused about Slinky Malinki’s latest adventure as any child. In Slinky Malinki’s Christmas 123, this naughty black cat has stolen the decorations from the Christmas tree. The first page opens with ‘one creeping cat’ and a pair of yellow eyes and a black raised paw coming sneakily around the corner of the page. On the second set of pages, the cat becomes a silohuette, sneaking under the words. He has taken off with ‘two red-nosed mice’ and ‘three shimmering shells’. The concept is simple, minimal and charming. The book counts all the way up to ten.
What will that ratbag Slinky Malinki steal next? For me, it raised a giggle thinking about my own cat and the scraps of tinsel we found without fail every December littered in odd corners of the house. One time, she climbed all the way up the trunk in a frenzied determination to find out what on earth a tree was doing in the middle of the lounge. Quick reinforcements prevented both from toppling over. If you have a cat who loves to chew – or perhaps, a toddler – the fact that this is a board book means it will stand up to a bit of wear and tear. Fittingly, the book also preaches a bit of Christmas forgiveness, as ‘ten busy hands’ put to right the mess that Slinky has created. It’s intended for very young readers, or to be read aloud to those learning to count.
Lynley Dodd is the creator of Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy. Her books are New Zealand classics and will make lovely gifts. I imagine that is where my copy will end up. It is a delightful book.
The release date of the end of September is well-timed, in plenty of time for Christmas.
Reviewer: Susannah Whaley
Penguin Random House, RRP $19.99