The Boy Who Knew Nothing

The Boy Who Knew Nothing
James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon
Templar Publishing
In the town of Solo Capoo lives a boy who supposedly knows nothing at all – his classmates tell him so, calling him a ‘fool’.

However when the lad comes upon an unusual-looking object in a dressing-up box, he’s eager to find out what it is. Waking his dozing parents he asks them. “Everyone knows that’s a sleepy giraffe!” comes his dad’s reply.
Unconvinced, the boy cycles off to consult the old whispering witch who tells him it’s a whispery owl.

Not satisfied however, the lad pays a call on ex-astronaut, Miss Susan only to be told the object is a clumsy gnu.

Exasperated our questioner climbs onto the back of the ‘thingy’

and flies home, where his parents greet him with questions about his attire and his companion.

Now the boy speaks out telling of his magical adventure and those he conversed with;

but his parents merely pack him (along with his fellow travellers) off to bed.

It’s there, tucked under his covers, that the boy learns from his ‘thingy’ its true identity – something listeners will have enjoyed being in the know about from the outset.

Back in class next day, our erstwhile adventurer has some words of wisdom to impart to the other children …

Delivered through James Thorp’s wacky rhyming text and Angus Mackinnon’s bizarre imagery that reminded me of 1960’s psychedelic pop art, this surreal picture book questions the nature of knowledge and knowing, but I’ll leave the philosophical ideas to those who decide to hold a community of enquiry with their audience having shared the story.

The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room
James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon
Templar Publishing

‘It started with an “OOPS!” … and a “LOOK OUT!” and a CRASH!’

So begins this wonderfully eccentric mystery concerning the identity of the guilty party responsible for breaking Father Giant’s treasured china elephant.

The suspects are numerous: it could have been Olive or her brother, Grub – after all they are hiding in a cupboard when the elephant’s owner strides into the room issuing threats of the dire punishment he will dish out to the culprit.
Seemingly though they’re in the clear; but what about the naughty newt, the laughing lady with the golden boot,

the clipping clopping yucky yack? No? Surely it can’t have been Sophie Sofa, the sun or the storm; so who? It must have been someone; after all, the thing is lying in pieces on the floor, but will the case be solved?

The whole thing romps along in absolutely faultless rhyme – for me a cross between Spike Milligan and Edward Lear – to its splendidly satisfying, twisting finale that will cause listeners to wriggle in delight.

Those wacky illustrations of Mackinnon’s – wow! There’s a touch of Seuss about some of them …

and that innovative colour palette with its neon orange highlighting gives the whole thing a slightly hypnagogic feel.

I can’t wait to see what these two come up with next.