The Bolds by Julian Clary is based on the premise that animals are actually much more intelligent than us humans give them credit for, which let’s face it, is most probably true. I was really attracted to the look of this book, the style of the illustrator is pretty unique and more detailed than illustrations I have seen in other books from this genre recently. Before reading this story, I knew that Julian Clary was a pretty funny guy who is flamboyant and outgoing, but didn’t know how he’d fair as a children’s author. Quite a lot of celebs are having a go at writing books for kids nowadays, and not all of them are great to be honest. However, discovering that he has a love of animals and fond memories of escaping in fiction when he was a child, I saw that this combination of interests and comedic experience had the potential to be good ingredients for a cracking book. And I was right – I thought that this was a well written, funny and unique book.
This story follows a pair of opportunistic hyenas who have picked up how to speak english whilst being in a safari park in Africa. They end up taking the place of a newly married couple after they are gobbled up by a crocodile, leaving their clothes and identity for the taking. Training themselves to walk on their hind legs and learning to hide their more conspicuous features with human clothing, they begin their lives in England.
Playing on the fact that hyenas are famous for their cackling laugh, Clary allocates the job of christmas cracker joke writer to Mr Bold, so there are a fair few corny jokes throughout the book and the illustrations by David Roberts help present these in a quirky way. I really enjoyed the illustrations in this book, as they aren’t just random, but well thought out to complement the story. If you look closely at many of them, they actually give you a clue or two about where some of the story is heading.
As the Bold family expands, it becomes more and more challenging to hide the fact that they aren’t actually humans and their nosey neighbour appears to be onto their case. Their animal instincts are strong, but can they get away with acting as humans forever? When their own kind are in need, will they be able to help without being outed as hyenas? How would the humans react?
See the youtube video below to hear an extract of the book read by the author.
This book would be great for you if you like funny books, but want to give yourself more of a challenge and move on from the likes of Tom Gates or books by Pamela Butchart. I genuinely really liked this book – I don’t always blog about books that I have read as sometimes I think that if you haven’t got anything nice to say, it’s better to say nothing at all.
I borrowed this book from the library and have already bought the sequel, The Bolds to the Rescue, as this is a book I would like to share with the children at my school. I am very much looking forward to going to the Cranbrook Literature festival next weekend, as both Julian Clary and David Roberts will be there to talk about their work together. It’s always exciting and inspiring to see authors in the flesh and hear about how they go about writing their stories, hearing the inspirations for characters and stories and how they make them come to life.