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Nicholas and Finnegan

Author: Sybil Marshall. Illustrated by Peter Edwards
Series: Puffin Story Book
Published: Harmondsworth
Physical Description: 32p. : ill.
Notes: This is an important example of a Young Puffin Original book within the Puffin Story Book series. Katharine Jane Wright notes that ‘the Young Puffin list initially consisted of existing Puffin Story Books which were reprinted in a larger format’ and were ‘a repackaging and rebranding [of] an existing product which had proved popular but needed a new approach to maximise its potential’(Wright 113). The Young Puffin Originals were published later in the Puffin Story Book series and ‘were bought specifically for it, or commissioned where suitable ones were in short supply’ (Wright 114). Sybil Marshall (1913-2005), author of Nicholas and Finnegan, was a British author, educationalist, and teacher (Lamont). She wrote numerous works for a young audience, some of which are also included in the Puffin Book series. Nicholas and Finnegan is a story book for young readers, which also includes puzzles and interactive elements. The book tells the story of a young boy Nicholas who goes to visit his grandparents, leaving his own home for the first time. Nicholas’s experience of smallness in comparison to adults is heightened by Edwards’ colourful and textured illustrations. The unfamiliarity of the things that scare Nicholas, named ‘uncomfortable things’ in contrast with the rest of his grandparents’ comfortable home, are underlined in these illustrations which appear from the perspective of one looking up. Two of the objects most feared by Nicholas, a grandfather clock and his grandparents’ cat, appear on the same page opening. The grandfather clock looms large on one page, while the opposite page shows the cat, Michael Finnegan. The cat’s mouth is open wide to reveal a detailed view, and the illustration gives the impression of looking up into the cat’s mouth. Nicholas’s fears are combined when the cat goes missing and is later found by Nicholas inside the clock. However, this event helps him to overcome these fears. The book is also an activity book, and the narrative voice directly addresses the reader on a number of occasions, instructing them to draw in items into the scene, to colour in items, or join the dots, in ways that allow the reader to enhance the scenes in the book. This aspect of the book appears to reflect Marshall’s educational interest. The final page, printed on the back inside cover, is the popular rhyme ‘There was a man called Michael Finnegan’, which is adapted and featured throughout the text, and so provides the intertext cited throughout.
[Ciara Gallagher].
Wright, Katharine Jane. “The Puffin Phenomenon and its Creator, Kaye Webb.” PhD diss. Newcastle University: 2012. Web. 17 Jul. 2015.
Lamont, William. “Obituary: Sybil Marshall.” The Guardian 31st Aug. 2005. Web. 10 Jul. 2015 [http://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/aug/31/guardianobituaries.schools].
Subject: Illustrator, Age of Reader, Genre, Fear, Activity Book, Imagination, Intertextual References
Language: English
Original price: United Kingdom 50p; Australia $1.75; Canada $1.50
Library: Church of Ireland College of Education
Collection: Bartlett Puffin Collection - CICE