The Day No One Was Angry by Toon Tellegen and Marc Boutavant (illustrator)
|The Day No One Was Angry by Toon Tellegen and Marc Boutavant (illustrator)|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A most unusual selection of thematically linked fable-type stories, that bring animals to life with a certain very human emotion.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 80||Date: November 2014|
|Publisher: Gecko Press|
The hyrax is so angry he could tear his hair out, for the sun sets every evening and doesn't pay any attention to the hyrax's daily request for it to stick around. There's an elephant who berates himself every time he tries to climb a tree - and gets too excited about managing it when he's too dangerously close to the top. The hedgehog tries writing I am angry down on a piece of bark to try and make it come true - and indeed does get cross at the consequences. All these odd little tales feature the same emotion, and both them and their collective subject matter make for what is definitely a unique little read.
All dozen tales have a very low word count - the longest is over five sides, and with all the pages being highly pictorial the word count for them all is very low, meaning the book would suit those reading solo or with parental company. They're all pretty charming little pieces too - generally amounting to what can only be described as a fable without the moral. The reader should be able to make his own resolution to a heavyweight stand-off in the middle of a forest track, but at times the subject matter is looked at too askew for that to happen.
Here are creatures goading others to ire, an ant giving anger management to a toad, and even a travelling lobster knocking on the door of an artist mouse trying to sell the right kind of anger for all occasions. The fact the latter starts off like a Monty Python sketch shows how off-kilter the collection can get. Throughout there is an unusual feel - by starting with what is clearly an example of idiotic and unnecessary anger, the book feels accessible, and is - to a point. I'm sure some readers would require more resolution for some of the tales, and for me as an adult the one-note theme was surprisingly unsettling.
What does ground the writing for the young reader, and rein in the excess of the moods of the pieces, are the illustrations. These are classically brilliant and beautifully classic - I don't know if they're pastel or ink, whatever, but they're just perfect, with scale, realism and character all included for the animals, and a great eye for both landscape and for the abstract with the lobster's wares. The book honours Boutavant's craft by giving him a four-page interlude at the halfway mark.
I assume that, like all fables, the tales could and would inspire family discussions about the theme, especially as there are so many instances of visiting the same topic in different ways here. (That definitely is the case when someone celebrates a contest at being angry by, well, losing the emotion.) It really is out on a limb being stuck on what it fixes on, but that's not to say the book doesn't have humour. It can be quite sprightly and whimsical at times, and does justify the concentration on its theme with its diverse contents. It'll certainly look good on the shelf, but I do think that however intricate the pictures and however masterful the writing it will still be a brave parent who buys this book. However they certainly shouldn't feel angry at the quality within.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
For those who can read a longer piece of fiction on their own, they should enjoy the animal antics of Foxy Tales - The Cunning Plan by Caryl Hart and Alex T Smith. The latest pictorial selection of Aesop fables to cross our path can be found here.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Day No One Was Angry by Toon Tellegen and Marc Boutavant (illustrator) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Day No One Was Angry by Toon Tellegen and Marc Boutavant (illustrator) at Amazon.com.
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