Described as ‘a first book of bedtime stories’, Let’s Join In by Shirley Hughes is an anthology of the four books that make up the ‘Olly and Me’ series – the ‘me’ being infant Olly’s toddler sister, Katie. While perhaps not as well-known as some of Hughes’ other titles, including Dogger and the Alfie series, they are still quite charming in their own way and great fun to read aloud at bedtime.
The four titles included here – Hiding, Giving, Chatting and Bouncing – were previously published individually. Bouncing and Giving were published in 1993, and Hiding and Chatting the following year. This edition marks the first time the four stories have appeared in one compilation, presumably in celebration of Hughes’ 90th birthday in July.
As always, Hughes’ distinctive and detailed illustration style enhances the minimal narration, which is told in a highly believable child’s voice. Katie’s feelings about her day to day life come through brilliantly, from receiving a gift from her grandparents to her loving relationship with Olly, even if he exasperates her at times. Some wit also comes through at points – for instance, in Hiding, when she mentions how her mother’s purse always seems to hide when they need to go to the shops.
While perhaps not warranting the ‘classic’ status that some of Hughes’ other work has achieved, Let’s Join In is still a highly enjoyable collection which could easily become a bedtime staple for young children.
Let’s Join In is out now, published by Walker Books.