This is a Serious Book

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This is a Serious Book
Jodie Parachini and Daniel Rieley
Faber & Faber
Make no bones about it, this is a serious book; we’re told so at the outset: ‘Nothing silly is allowed.’ Errrm – what’s that donkey doing popping up right on the first spread and almost immediately proceeding to sabotage everything our solemn narrator is trying to tell us? Moreover, he’s got the audacity to emit a bottom parp, then proceed to don ridiculous ducky pjs. and do some showy-offy balancing on a unicycle …

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Oh and then, while wearing that ridiculous multi-coloured titfa, he has the cheek to introduce us to a zebra – yes he is appropriately coloured in accordance with the narrator’s ‘a serious book must be in black and white’, but serious? Hmmm! Their efforts at ‘pretending’ don’t look as though they’d fit the serious bill at all.

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And what the heck is a snake doing slithering onto the scene? Not to mention the penguin and that troupe of monkeys …
Eventually our long-suffering narrator yields control of the whole book to the invaders …

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And guess who – with a few deft strokes – has the last word(s) …
At once, silly and sophisticated, this book puts me in mind somewhat of Bingham and Zelinsky’s Z is for Moose and Circle, Square, Moose and can certainly be appreciated at lots of different levels. Youngsters will revel in the comic portrayal of donkey’s rule-breaking in particular and older readers will appreciate the meta-book style of the whole anarchic thing.

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