He is the unchallenged master of rhythm - all types of rhythm - and when another author attempts to write in a similar fashion, it's natural, if admittedly unfair, to draw comparisons. It's not easy to make words trickle off the tongue in a manner that will enthrall young readers and unfortunately that was abundantly clear when I settled in to read three books the Parent Bloggers Network recently provided for me.
All Hallows Eve, Winter's Eve and Christmas Eve, from Positive Spin Press, are illustrated and written by husband and wife team Lisa Sterlazza Johnson and Tucker Johnson. They are holiday-themed books which introduce children to the myths and stories behind Halloween, Christmas and a number of other holidays around the world by way of a charming little fairy named Eve.
It's an absolutely wonderful concept, the illustations are beautiful and there are certainly times when the rhythms, written in the anapaest style a la The Night Before Christmas - are lovely. But there are also times, quite a few times, when the rhyming is so forced it difficult to read the stories in the lyrical style in which they are intended to be read.
The books are recommended for children aged four and up or children from 2.5 years of age who are used to being read to. Graham has just turned three and he is a voracious reader but as valiantly as I tried I couldn't seem to hold his interest with the stories.
Perhaps he will enjoy them more when he is a little older, but I do think the awkward phrasing and some of the convoluted stories - particularly in the Winter's Eve book - were definitely a factor in his disinterest.
I have never made a conscious effort to seek out books that tackle explanations of holidays and traditions for children and I have heard from people with older children that appropriate stories of this nature are few and fair between. If that's the case, these tales from Positive Spin Press may well be excellent alternatives to what's currently available.