The Giant Jumperee
Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury
Donaldson and Oxenbury – a formidable team if ever there was one: together they’ve created a picture book that has all the hallmarks of a classic.
Who or what is occupying Rabbit’s burrow: some monster perhaps; it certainly has a loud voice as it claims “I’m the GIANT JUMPEREE and I’m scary as can be!” stopping Rabbit short as he’s about to enter his home.
Rabbit’s friends, starting with Cat, come to his aid:
she offers to “slink inside and pounce” only to be threatened with “I’ll squash you like a flea!” Cat then cries for help and Bear responds.
The Giant Jumperee however seems to have the measure of each of the would-be assailants: this time issuing the threat of a bee-like sting sending Bear into a tizz and calling for help. Help that comes in the form of Elephant but he too ends up in retreat, remaining, like the others though, in close proximity to Rabbit’s burrow.
Enter Mummy Frog, and paying scant heed to the frets of the other animals, she calmly approaches the burrow and employs what will surely be a technique familiar to early years audiences: she calls the Jumperee’s bluff as she slowly counts to three.
Out pops her gleeful offspring, totally unrepentant …
and more than happy to be led off home – for tea, with the other animals in tow, of course. This is sure to result in equally gleeful responses from young listeners who will have been totally captivated by the whole saga – I say saga, although this is a short story. It’s impact though, is far from small: it’s truly a case of less being much, much more. Take a look at this final wordless spread:
Everything about this is pitch perfect, from the wonderfully effective plot with its repetitions, occasional forays into rhyme, and tone of telling, to Helen’s glorious renderings of the animals whose demeanours are totally priceless, especially that of Mum Frog – an indomitable force if ever there was one- on discovering the culprit of all the hullabaloo.
I’ve signed the charter