It Could Be Worse

It Could Be Worse
Einat Tsarfati
Walker Books

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? In this story we meet one of each – Albertini is the latter, always placing a negative slant on a situation; his fellow sailor, George is an optimist, remaining cheerful no matter what.

Stranded out on the open sea on what’s left of their ship after a disaster that took place prior to the start of the story, we see them facing a series of incidents that get progressively unlikely. First comes a cloudburst with the rain falling only on the two sailors, followed almost immediately by a torrent of excreta from a school of flying fish suffering from diarrhoea, that strangely amuses George (perhaps none fell on him).

Their disparate viewpoints continue as they encounter half a dozen crooning mermaids whose song lodges itself in lamenting Albertini’s brain; then while George renders the mermaids’ tune on his harmonica, a ghost ship of pirates suddenly appears, closely followed by an ark brimming over with animals – very hungry ones on account of being food deprived for forty days.

Their adventure then takes a subaquatic turn as the tentacles of a massive sea anemone pull them to the ocean floor

where George’s oft repeated “It could be worse” starts to wobble somewhat as they’re surrounded by jellyfish, engulfed (albeit briefly) by a whale

before landing unceremoniously on a rather smelly island where they bed down for the night. Or attempt to before they get the surprise of their lives …

Now how on earth (or in water)? did that happen?

Comical illustrations of the unlikely scenarios and George’s oft-repeated refrain will likely keep young listeners anticipating the possibilities of the next unlikely happening, while causing lots of giggles along the way.

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