Anton and the Battle is one of those picture books that you know is going to make kids laugh just by looking at the front cover. How can you not laugh when the two boys are swinging a cow and a cello at each other? The cover hooks you in and you want to find out what the battle is about.
The story starts with Anton and Luke arguing about which one of them is the strongest. Anton can lift a big stone, but Luke can lift an even bigger stone. They keep trying to out-do each other by proving that they’re stronger or louder or braver – until they meet a ferocious puppy.
Anton and the Battle is a wonderful story about the power of the imagination and the joy of play. Both the text and the illustrations are so simple, but really funny. Ole has coloured his two characters but left the rest of the page white so that they and their imaginations stand out. The white space allows the giant horn or the bombs to take center stage and draw the reader’s attention. The illustrations will have children laughing out loud, as Anton and Luke chase after each other with giant hammers, swing lions and tigers over their heads and get stuck up trees. The page where they are swinging lions and tigers over their heads is hilarious (just look at their faces)! I love the twist on the story when Ole throws a puppy into the mix and even when they’re stuck up a tree, they’re still trying to out-do each other.
It’s a story with lots of anticipation that keeps children guessing. Before you turn the page you could ask them what they think might happen next. Even after the story is finished you could ask children to suggest other things that Anton and Luke could battle with or ways they could show they’re stronger, louder or faster than each other. They could even draw their own Anton and Luke battle scene.
Anton and the Battle is one of Gecko Press’ first releases of 2013 and is available in libraries and bookshops now.