A Children's Treasury of Milligan by Spike Milligan

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A Children's Treasury of Milligan by Spike Milligan

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Perfect for the parent who likes to dramatise when reading aloud, this compendium of stories for children by the inimitable Spike Milligan is as funny as you would expect. If you don't know the difference between an African Elephant and an Arctic Elephant, then you're missing out. One to buy for sure, as they'll want the stories read over and again. With actions.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 212 Date: September 2004
Publisher: Virgin Books
ISBN: 1852278919

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"Mummy, why this daddy lion got glasses on?"

"'Why is this lion wearing glasses.' What lion?"

"Yes, that's what I said! [eyes roll heavenward] This one."

"Ooh, Spike Milligan! Shall we read it then?"

"Yay! Yes! But why that daddy lion got glasses on?"

Do you know what the Gofongo is? Or why his visits to the vet are so frequent? ("He has toes that whistle tunes, And explode! Like toy balloons"). Do you know what the Wiggle Woggle is? Or what he said? ("When I'm standing on my head, I can see the coast of China, And it's very, very, red.") Do you know the difference between the African and the Arctic Elephant? ("- they're colder. Feel one.") Have you ever seen the rare back view of the Three-Legged Hippo? And, most importantly of all, do you know the story of the Bald Twit Lion? No? Well, you should. It's a Children's Treasury of Spike Milligan and it's an anthology of most of that great man's writing for children all bundled up together in a very sexy-looking book.

We started with the rhymes and cartoons. I liked the Three-Legged Hippo best, although when I was little it was always the Silly Old Baboon who tried to fly, but never succeeded in taking off that made me laugh most. You might like the pig with long, curly eyelashes and puckered-up lips who meets a rather sad end.

Oh, you know. It's just nonsense verse, daft stories and silly captions on silly cartoons, all about animals, real or imaginary. But it's Spike Milligan. He wrote it. He drew it. And it's funny. You know. It's bright stuff, it's smiling stuff. Lots of the book is filled with little drawings, poems, and observations. The best bit though, in the humble opinion of l'il ol' me, is the story of the Bald Twit Lion. "The sad happy ending story of The Bald Twit Lion. A story for very all ages." Mr Gronk the lion lives in the most successful, best organised, "really good" jungle around. Beautiful plants abound and all the animals live in harmony together without interference from Man or Science. One day, Mr Gronk the lion has "an attack of strongness". He's feeling particularly good because it's his twenty first birthday and he's just been given the key to the jungle. So he roars. It's such a strong roar that his mane falls out, all two hundred thousand hairs of it. Poor Mr Gronk, he doesn't feel so strong any more, especially when a passing hippo calls him a Bald Twit Lion. What is he to do?

"Lion was heart-broken. 'Sad growls,' he said and then did what no lion had ever done before, not even in the Ark, he laid himself down on the World and cried. 'Boohoo, boo-hairless-hoo.' The animals, having no television, gathered around him to look and feel sad. 'He must have an upset tummy,' said a monkey's stomach. 'I would say he's had bad news,' said a teenage coconut. All the animals shook their heads and some fell off. It wasn't a good day for the jungle, or the animals."

Children would do exactly what the animals did. When they're all playing together and one falls over, grazing a knee or an elbow, what do the others do? They gather round and remark to themselves, don't they? They point out the blood, or the bits of gravel that have stuck to the graze and they might even have a prod or poke. So they don't that part is particularly funny, even though adults do, and I bet ol' Spike Milligan knew that. Anyway, Mr Gronk the Bald Twit Lion does eventually get his mane back, but only after a lot more silly laughs, if you want to know you'll have to buy the book, so there.

A Children's Treasury of Spike Milligan is packed and dense, just as the best jokes are, and it's also so gloriously free and unfettered, just as the best nonsense should be. There is just so much mileage in it, it's endlessly funny. Read it aloud, you must. And when you read try some different voices - read it as Milligan himself, punchy and staccato, or as Peter Sellers, slow and lugubrious. Read it in a squeaky Michael Bentine way and, if you have his marvellous timing, read it with some Harry Secombe phrasing. Try some of the silly Goon voices, try all the accents you can - the jokes will come out slightly differently each time. You can't really read it sitting down, either, you need to be up and about, inventing some "appropriate" actions.

There is dark and light in all good comedians, and the light is often a childish light, particularly so with Spike Milligan. Somehow they can reach a child and know what a child will like, laugh at or understand, much better than even their parents do. It would be nice to think that Spike could know how many children still laugh at the things he wrote for them, don't you think? Buy this book, do.

For another humorous read-aloud-with-actions book, try our review of The Land Of Green Ginger by Noel Langley.

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Buy A Children's Treasury of Milligan by Spike Milligan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Children's Treasury of Milligan by Spike Milligan at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy A Children's Treasury of Milligan by Spike Milligan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Children's Treasury of Milligan by Spike Milligan at Amazon.com.


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