Whose Story Is This, Anyway?

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Whose Story Is This, Anyway?
Mike Flaherty and Oriol Vidal
Sterling
I’m a sucker for metafictive picture books and this debut story from Mike Flaherty is one of those. Before the narrative even starts, on the title page (above the actual title) we can see evidence of ‘roads not taken’: there are four alternative titles that are deleted although still readable.
Now, let’s meet the star of the show, our young narrator who proudly kicks off with “You want o hear a story? I’ve got a great one. Why is it great? Because it’s all about me.” He has a side -kick, his cat Emperor Falafel. (love that name).

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Now let’s get on with the story … it’s set beside the sea, on the beach, to be more precise; but pretty soon – on the next page to be exact, Salty Pete the pirate has the audacity to interrupt the barely off the ground narrative and then accuse the young protagonist that it’s him doing the interrupting. Cheek of it!
What should appear out of the blue next but a dinosaur …

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followed not long after by …

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Our narrator does his best to continue gallantly, oops did I say gallantly – big mistake because what should come next but a knight in shining armour telling of dragons foul and maidens fair. But then, after mentions of pizza (that’s from the dragon) and toppings for same (that’s from other members of the cast) the lad finally loses the plot – pretty nearly anyhow …

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but manages to bring himself back from the edge – just – and gives all the others their marching orders. Well, you can’t blame the lad; after all he’s been trying his best to get his story told for over twenty pages hitherto.

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Time to get on with the REAL story then: but oh! oh! Our narrator notices a yawn coming from our direction, could that perhaps be indicative of boredom? Maybe, just maybe, there’s a way to make this whole thing into a win/win affair … Once upon a time …
This is an absolute gift for readers aloud who like to throw themselves heart and soul into a rendition: it’s beautifully orchestrated by colour changes of the speech bubbles, too. I had a ball sharing it with a group. I have to admit though, that I love and welcome interruptions to a story – of a questioning kind though, maybe not of the kind herein. However, the interrupters have my sympathies almost as much as the narrator; and this story has terrific potential when it comes to showing (not telling) youngsters the importance of seeing other people’s view points and of delayed gratification.
Orion Vidal’s cartoon style, digitally rendered illustrations really do highlight the escalating drama of the text until that final spread of serenity. I’m assuming its slightly anti-climactic nature is entirely deliberate and intended to set enthralled listeners off on their own flights of fancy fuelled by the crazy cast of characters herein.

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