April 2011 Archives

Giles Andreae
April 2011
32 pp
Whole book & series read
Read On? YES
During Easter weekend I was made to read aloud all thirteen of these quirky World Of Happy titles in a single sitting. The books are mini modern Aesopian fables in which unhappy situations become resolved, but not in an overly educational way. In The Knitting Gorilla, for example, one of the gorillas' children, instead of growing up to be big and fierce like his daddy, defies convention by developing a knitting habit. The jumpers he knits are too small. To begin with, the other gorillas jeer and mock, but after a while they begin to RESPECT the jumper as an item of distinction. Likewise in The Pink Cricket, instead of playing the violin like all the normal green crickets, the one and only pink cricket takes up the drums. Despite the inevitable ridicule and teasing, the pink cricket sticks to his dreams and ends up playing drums in the band. The books all have randomly capitalised words. Tortoise Football contains "WRONG, MISERY, TOWER, SCRAMBLED..." It's all a little puzzling. You can get a flavour of this on the series website. Whilst most of the titles are witty in a way that will chime with both young children and adults, and all are boldly, simply and accessibly illustrated, one or two of the little books strike a decidedly weird note. In The Elephant And The Spider - SOCIAL ISSUE is capitalised early on - the elephant takes "a JOURNEY into HERSELF" and the whole self-help ambience of the book certainly went way over the heads of my 3 and 5 yr old audience. But I no longer have any of the books in my possession. The three-year-old decided they simply had to go home with her, which probably says more than anything else in this review.