'Not as good as Paw Patrol': What children think about The Bench, Meghan Markle's debut book

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·Royal Correspondent
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Watch: Meghan releases children’s book The Bench with nods to Harry, Archie and Lili

Much has been said already about the Duchess of Sussex's first children's book, with many lampooning her for daring to enter the literary world.

The Bench was released on 8 June, just four days after she welcomed her second baby Lilibet and went on an extended period of parental leave.

She once said criticism and flattery "go down the same drain" for her – so it could be that the less-than-positive reviews of her first foray into writing won't keep her up at night, even if Lili does.

Nevertheless, its grown-up reviewers have called it a "grammar-defying set of badly rhyming cod homilies", (The Telegraph) and said "you can’t help but feel like it’s more for adults than it is kids" (The Independent).

The Times's review said: "It has beautiful illustrations by the Caldecott-winning artist Christian Robinson (they really got the best) but lacks the crucial ingredients for a successful tale for this age group: a good story and basic rhythm."

But what do children, the target audience, make of it?

Yahoo UK took the book to three children aged three and four to ask them what they thought of Meghan's rhyming story.

Grace, four, was not keen.

The Fulham resident said: "It's not really good. It's a little bit good.

"I wouldn't read it again."

Her sister Bella, three, agreed.

Bella enjoyed spotting the chickens in the book. (Rebecca Taylor/Yahoo Style UK)
Bella enjoyed spotting the chickens in The Bench. (Rebecca Taylor/Yahoo Style UK)

Read more: Will the Queen and Prince Harry meet when he is in the UK?

Bella said she prefers books about pirates. For Grace, it would not beat Paw Patrol if she was offered a choice between the two.

But she did enjoy many of the pictures, citing in particular the images of the father in the wheelchair and the school bus.

She also liked the ballet page, but said of the book overall: "I didn't like the words."

The pictures were not enough to keep Bella interested, and she preferred to go and look at her toys.

Arthur enjoyed reading the book. (Rebecca Taylor/Yahoo Style UK)
Arthur enjoyed reading The Bench. (Rebecca Taylor/Yahoo Style UK)

Read more: Baby Lilibet makes a guest appearance in Meghan's book for children

Arthur, four, was far more engaged with the book.

A keen reader, the Londoner is a fan of The Octonauts, books about pirates and the You Choose! series, which allows readers to select their adventure.

But he was engaged with the page showing a boy with a football trophy, exclaiming "He won!" on second reading.

He explained he likes football.

He also let out a small, satisfied chuckle at one daddy and son moment.

All three children struggled with the language in the book, with questions about the words kin, pride, and witness. However the book is for up to age seven, so this might be easier for older kids.

Grace and Bella's mum Sarah noted that the book seemed more like something to be bought for a new parent.

She said: "They might err on side of sentimentality but not sure it would captivate children."

And Arthur's mum Laura mused that it could be read to a child from as young as one, agreeing it was one adults might like to read to their children.

The Bench is available to buy now, priced at £12.99.

Watch: Prince Harry to take five months' parental leave

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