Picture Book Perusal: I Just Ate My Friend…

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picture book perusal button

I’ve got a new book on the block for fans of subversive picture books of the style of Jon Klassen today, with I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon.  We received our copy from Allen & Unwin for review and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

This beautiful, innovate picture book from an enormously talented new creator will make you laugh out loud. The search for a true friend is something everyone can relate to – from the very young to the very old.

I just ate my friend. He was a good friend. But now he is gone. Would you be my friend?

A hilarious story about the search for friendship and belonging… and maybe a little bit about the importance of impulse control… from an amazing new creator.

i just ate my friend

I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon.  Published by Allen & Unwin, 26th July 2017.  RRP:$24.99

A monster realises the error of his ways after eating its only friend. Will the quest for a new friend result in success…or dinner?  This was a totally fun read that resulted in a few bemused looks as the realisation dawned that the monster did actually just eat its friend and now required a replacement.  For friendship, that is.  Not for eating.  Definitely not.

The book reads like a cross between Please Mr Panda and Ugly Fish as once the friend has been eaten, the protagonist monster goes on a hunt for a new buddy, asking all manner of variously weird, winged, toothy, leggy creatures whether they’ll be its friend.  All the creatures asked have perfectly valid reasons for denying the request (except for the cranky looking fanged dragonfly thing that responds simply with a “No”) and it quickly becomes apparent that the monster may well have eaten its only friend.

There is definitely a Klassenesque feel about the story, with the eating of the friend presented bluntly, with no explanation as to why the monster may have felt the need to nosh on its only mate.  The monster differs from most of Klassen’s morally bankrupt characters however, in that it seems genuinely remorseful once the consequences of its actions become apparent.  Those who enjoy reading these subversive types of picture books can probably guess what happens in the end, but it will be no less of an enjoyable read for guessing correctly.

The illustrations consist of bold, bright colours set against a deep green, blue and black background and we just loved the array of strange creatures that populate the story.  The text comes in short bursts so the book is perfect for little ones just learning to read as they will quickly come to remember the words on each page thanks to the repetition in the text.

The best indicator that the mini-fleshlings enjoyed this book is that upon finishing it, they immediately requested that it be read again.  I’m not sure whether this had something to do with the disbelief of how the story ended, but they definitely wanted to go back and have a second look at this funny, quirky and just a little bit scary story.

Until next time,

Bruce

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A Happy Ending…For Some: Subversive Texts for Tots

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Everyone loves a happy ending, don’t they?  Well, no, not really.  Some of us – no doubt those who suckle at the bountiful teat of schadenfreude – quite enjoy a bit of calamity and emotional turmoil descending on the heads of otherwise loveable characters.  But how to introduce such universal themes to children? Fear not my dears, for I have a range of books to fulfil this very need!  Oldies, but goodies, admittedly, but perhaps some that you have not encountered before, and can therefore add to your arsenal of go-to books for times of “wanting to glory in the misfortunes of others”…..

Firstly, the delightful Sandra Boynton brings us a modern day tale of exclusion with her painfully honest But Not The Hippopotamus.  The happenings in this one will be familiar to anyone who’s ever wanted to be part of the in-crowd, and anyone who’s ever managed it and then thanked their lucky stars they weren’t left on the shelf (figuratively speaking of course. Shelves are fine places to be left, in my line of work.)

Next is the oft-told (or rather, oft-hoped-for!) classic story involving the underdog getting one over on the annoyingly bossy boss-person.  Little Bunny Foo Foo: The Real Story by Cori Doerrfeld is apparently a take on a traditional funny children’s song that I was not exposed to until a few days ago.  While this lack of exposure is, in itself, outrageous, the events unfolding in this cheerful little jaunt provide a modern cautionary tale for bossy-boots and dibber-dobbers everywhere, in the form of a sweet little ditty that can be sung at will (preferably with actions).  Thus it is suitable for even the smallest student of subversion!

In a slightly less cheerful vein (for rabbits, anyway) is the wonderful Wolves by the ever-popular Emily Gravett.  This book follows a studious little rabbit as he navigates the world of wolfkind through a borrowed library book.  While this book will no doubt put fear of wolves (and indeed, library borrowing) into little rabbits forever after, it also provides a simple, and age-appropriate introduction to difficult scientific concepts….such as the food chain.

Last but not least is the classic Not Now, Bernard by David McKee.  The schadenfreude of this offering is less for the tots and more for the parents, as Bernard (he of the title) is eaten by a monster and his parents don’t notice.  Who amongst you flesh-parents does not enjoy a little judgemental rant now and again at the expense of lesser parents? If you have not come across this book before, it is worth seeking it out for its chillingly prescient take on modern society…or just for the fun of jumping on the self-righteousness bandwagon.

I hope these titles are helpful in assisting you to educate your little minions of future sedition.

Until next time,

Bruce