Punk's not dead!
Punk Rocker Poodle by Laura Dockrill and Sandhya Prabhat, Faber, April 2022
Punk Rocker Poodle is the book you didn't know you needed! Probably one of the most original picture books we own and definitely the most anarchic. Prepare to be bowled over by the star of the story - a cute little pooch with plenty of attitude. This playfully introduces an extremely punk poodle as they romp, stomp and riot through their day. Reading this feels a little like watching a rockumentary and is just so much fun. Toddlers and younger readers will enjoy seeing themselves reflected in the poodle's behaviour and parents will get a kick out of it too. The story also celebrates the transformative effects of creature comforts like a cuddle and cosy pyjamas. This is something to which we can all relate, whether we're a child or a grown-up.
Whatever preconceptions you might have had about poodles being docile or frivolous are about to be dismantled. I love how Punk Rocker Poodle defies gender as well as doggie stereotypes and encourages little readers to challenge them too. It's fantastic how the poodle is entirely her own person. And it's brilliant how she is allowed to just be who she is and express herself too. The main character reminds me a lot of my almost-five-year-old who has even leapt out of the bath on more than one occasion as I've attempted to wash her hair. She protests and bounds around just like the poodle, especially in the mornings, and can also change from antagonistic to angelic within seconds. And she ADORES this book.
Since Punk Rocker Poodle arrived, whenever I ask which story she'd like, the almost-five-year-old responds with, 'Oi! Oi! Oi! You! You! You!' She always makes the punk sign with her hands after we read it, mimicking the poodle and a framed photo in the poodle's room. When I asked what was her favourite part of the book she said, 'No school!' But the nearly-seven-year-old loves this story too, even though she is getting a little old for picture books. They have both taken to shouting 'Oi!' and 'You!' at me when we're getting ready for school, which makes me laugh. In the mornings, I tend to be as grumpy as my kids and a more punk rock start to the day is putting us all in a better mood.
Both kids find the spirited little poodle hilarious. They love the lively, colourful and comical illustrations and the trail of chaos they contain. Author Laura Dockrill and illustrator Sandhya Prabhat are a match made in punk rock picture book heaven! The images are as charged with energy as the poodle protagonist. I love how the text is integrated with the illustrations using eye-catching and dynamic typography. And just like the poodle, the artwork is incredibly striking and edgy with its own distinct and unique style.
There are so many amusing details, particularly the bewildered expressions of some of the other characters. Even the endpapers are full of action and my kids enjoy studying these as much as the pages of the story. I love the poodle's outfits, glasses and button badges and how she channels Vivienne Westwood effortlessly.
It's essential that you embrace your own inner punk when reading this one aloud. The first time we read it, I used my normal voice. I was timidly reciting the words 'oi', 'you' and 'no' but it didn't work at all. Now, I belt them out and do my best Sid Vicious impression and we all get far more out of the story. Punk Rocker Poodle is not just a picture book - it's the perfect performance art for entertaining little pups.
Thanks so much to the lovely people in Faber for kindly sharing this fabulous story with us - all opinions expressed are our own.