He first came to my attention a couple of years ago when I spotted Goth Girl in my local Waterstones.
I didn’t buy it as I thought I might be indulging myself rather than buying with my daughter in mind.
(I needn’t have worried. Since then it has become increasingly obvious that not only is she her mother’s daughter but also Wednesday Addams incarnate).
But I did buy Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, swiftly followed, when that proved a hit, by Ottoline at Sea.
The books are just gorgeous. If ever there’s an argument for children’s books to be traditionally published, then this is it.
Beautifully bound, splattered with Chris Riddell’s intricately detailed illustrations, inside and out, the books are a pleasure to hold and read.
Ottoline likes splashing in puddles and collecting things. She collects shoes. Every time she gets a new pair one goes in the collection and the other gets worn.
She is looked after by her friend Mr Munroe while her parents are off exploring the world. Mr Munroe is small, hairy and comes from a bog in Norway. (And closely resembles Cousin It.)
In Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, the two friends investigate a string of burglaries, putting their unusual traits to good use as they infiltrate the robber’s lair.
In Ottoline at Sea, Mr Munroe disappears and Ottoline ropes in the assistance of a bear who lives in their basement and does the laundry as they follow Mr Munroe on his mission to Norway.
The wonderfully quirky stories, peppered with drawings and clear text are easily accessible for children of this age (8+) to read on their own. In fact it’s the kind of book that encourages them to do so, leaving the parents little option but to wait until they’ve finished to read it themselves!
(There is a third book, Ottoline at School which Frankie has borrowed from the Library. She keeps nagging me to get her her own copy.)
Authors who encourage children to read and love books like this should be recognised as National Treasures. I’m so glad that Chris Riddell has been. Long may he reign!!