Review of ‘The Tales of Mrs Mancini’
Title: ‘The Tales of Mrs Mancini’
Author: Natalie Jane Prior
Illustrator: Cheryl Orsini
Publisher: Harper Collins
Age Range: early childhood; cake and/or cat lovers of all ages.
Themes: community; friendship; family; cats; cake; pastries; bakery; adventure.
From the creators of ‘The Fairy Dancers’, which I have reviewed and spoken about here and here , comes a new collection of stories, perfect for fans of ‘The Cleo Stories’ and ‘Ruby Red Shoes’ and ‘The Sisters Saint-Claire’. ‘The Tales of Mrs Mancini’ tells the story of a cat, Mrs Mancini, who together with her human friend, Filippina, owns a patisserie full of delectable treats. Alongside her flair for flan, Mrs Mancini also has a special ability to bring lonely children together.
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The three fully illustrated short stories contained in ‘The Tales of Mrs Mancini’, each focus on children living in a small village: Claudette, from the fruit shop; Jack from the bookshop; and the twins, Daisy and Rose, from the florist. These tales of friands and friendship are authentic, relate-able tales, which are interwoven perfectly and together they create the feeling of a lovely community with Mrs Mancini and her patisserie at its heart. ‘The Tales of Mrs Mancini’ celebrates the wonder of cake and the magic of friends to solve most of the worries of the world. It is pure creamy, sugary delight and sometimes this is just what I want from a book – pure loveliness.
I have now read this entire book 20+ times to kindy – Year Four students and I still have a chuckle and have to stop over the line about Mrs Mancini being very concerned about lack of cake eating by one child! What’s not to love about a cat who frets over her human friends losing weight through not indulging in daily cakes and pastries? Cats are of course, well-known for their assumption that they are in charge over their human owner, and I love that Natalie Jane Prior has used this to great effect in ‘The Tales of Mrs Mancini’, putting the lovable and adventurous Mrs Mancini squarely in the main character position. So much more charming and interesting for young readers to have a cat in charge than just a plain old, boring adult! My Prep students were also most excited to find out that the character of Mrs Mancini was based, in part, on a real cat, and over the next few weeks we’re collecting stories of our own pets or pets we know, to write a collective ‘Tales of…’ style book.
Mrs Mancini would probably not like to know this, but I think Cheryl Orsini’s illustrations of cakes, friands, tarts, meringues, sugar mice and pastries outshine her. It really was jam and cream filled brilliance on the part of author Natalie Jane Prior to create this text for Cheryl to work her sparkling, sugary magic on and the book is best consumed while eating patisserie goods…for the full literary experience. Cheryl Orsini has included some very fine little details, for the astute reader of images, such as the cover of ‘The Fairy Dancers’ and Jack’s mum, pictured looking very pregnant, before we find this out. Small details such as these add immeasurably to the visual literacy skills which are developed when reading images in quality picture books.
‘The Tales of Mrs Mancini’ is Christmas gifts for 2-6 year olds DONE. Even better is the fact that once again, the creators have produced a huge range of fabric and simple to sew pre-printed patterns, through Spoonflower, which mean you can gift the book and a cushion, apron, pyjamas, book bag…whatever your little seamstress heart desires. The ‘Natalie and Cheryl Shop’ even contains some librarian fabric, which if you look closely you may recognize as me with my pink hair – I am FABRIC people – technically I could make a ME doll! Their fabric and sewing projects are just utter picture book genius, because who doesn’t want to wear endpapers and children’s book illustrations? ‘The Fairy Dancers’ was used for ChickPea and PudStar’s bedroom and it remains one of their favourite books. I can see many a bedroom or playroom done up as Mrs Mancini’s bakery and PudStar is rather enamoured with her tote bag and her dress, which is actually an apron, but far too pretty to be relegated to the kitchen!
COMPETITION CLOSED! Congratulations to B Coates and E. Diviny.
For the chance to win a book and panel set, comment below (or on associated Facebook or Instagram posts) with your favourite patisserie treat and who you most enjoy sharing it with. Full terms and conditions below.
The Fine Print
I have received nothing in return for hosting this ‘Mrs Mancini’ giveaway. My aim is just to share the literary love and to thank all you readers who have joined me here at Children’s Books Daily.
How to enter
‘The Tales of Mrs Mancini’ giveaway commences at 9am (AEDT) on 1st November 2016, and ends at midday (AEDT) on 7th November 2016.
Entrants are required to leave a comment on this blog post OR on the Facebook post associated with the giveaway OR the Instagram post associated with the post.
Terms and Conditions
Entry is open to residents of Australia only. Persons entering must be over 18 years of age.
Entry is a game of skill and chance plays no part in determining a winner.
Winners will be chosen by CBD editors from all eligible entries received.
Judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
Winners will be contacted via comment function on the blog entry or Facebook status update or Instagram
If a winner is unable to be contacted or does not claim their Prize within 14 days the prize will be forfeited.
In the event of forfeiture a further draw will be conducted within 14 days and a new winner will be selected.
The Prize will be sent to the winner’s address.
Prizes are not transferable or redeemable for cash.