SpReAd the Love Book Challenge: Recommended by Alice and Guylty

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When I first heard about the Spread the Love challenge, I thought it was not for me. A beloved children’s book to review and then to gift to a library or an individual child – great idea! But all the children’s books that I loved myself and/or read to my own sprogs were in German. (I was quite strict with that because bilingualism is fragile when you are the only person who speaks the so-called minority language, surrounded by another, much stronger majority language that dominates the children’s language acquisition.) But I wanted to get behind Obscura’s and Jazzbaby’s laudable drive for spreading the love and doing good. What to do? Lie? But then the perfect book dropped into my lap mind. A book much beloved by me, my kids, and Alice.

Alice? Who the f*ck is Alice? Well, peeps, you all have heard of this book before! That is if you are really the RA fan you profess to be. Let me take you to this little scene (skip to 2:06 – if you *can* resist missing the wide Armitage grin) :

moleThe Story of the Little Mole who Knew it was None of his Business. I came across this book shortly after it had appeared in mini format in 1999 – and when I bought it, I did not have my recently born sprog in mind, but my SO who was learning German at the time (at pretty much the same rate as our eight month old son *lol*), and this was the sort of level of language mixed in with age-appropriate fecal humour that would appeal to Mr Guylty. [WARNING: If you do not like toilet humour, stop reading here. I understand that some might find this offensive or out-of-bounds, but I take my cue from the great James Joyce, credited with being the first to include a toilet scene in a work of literature that is generally hailed as one of the greatest books of all times.]

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The book opens with a premise, that many children (and adults) wonder about. What happens, when a small creature is in the wrong place at the wrong time – and is in the unfortunate position of being shat upon: The little mole greets the morn, looking out of his mole hill – and an undefinable warm bit of animal waste wraps itself around his head, turban style. The mole is understandably outraged – and decides to go search for whoever is responsible for this inconsiderate affront.

img026The following pages of the book see the mole seek out his animal friends – asking each in turn whether they deposited something on his head. They reply in the negative and prove their point by showing him what shape *their* deposits take. The mole continues his journey that eventually culminates in an act of defying revenge that allows him to find closure and redemption. A suitably happy ending that adds an upswing to an already hilarious story.

The book features detailed illustrations that answer the important questions that children have – and yes, these things are important, especially when you read this book at an age when your child is struggling with potty training. Moreover, this is a book that is delightful not only for children but also for adults. The text is clearly written with both an adult and a young audience in mind. The drawings of the mole – all outraged and affronted – will have you chuckle on every page.

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Alice – for once – gets it right. This is a modern mystery-thriller. And one that appeals to all. It satisfies the young readers’ curiosity about such not-talked-about topics as animal secretions, and it is drawn with an ironic and delightfully light pen and it has hilarious asides that the older audience will smile about. Seldom have taboos been so happily broken.

29 thoughts on “SpReAd the Love Book Challenge: Recommended by Alice and Guylty

  1. Is it real? OMG I didn’t know it! Thanks Guylty, this post was illuminating πŸ˜€
    And yes, I totally agree with you, children need to have their [very important] questions answered in a clever and funny way. πŸ˜‰

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  2. I remember when this book hit Germany — I gave it at least three times as a birthday present to a child. (I was also strangely fascinated by the word “Maulwurf”). I never noticed it was a translation from the English so when I saw VoD for the first time, I had to look it up. Great, great memory and fun post!

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    • I don’t think it was a translation from the English, Serv – the names of the writer and illustrator sound very German to me? But yeah, I loved it when it came out – just for the sheer taboo it was breaking πŸ˜‰

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        • I love words like that – so descriptive: an animal that throws something with his snout. A “snout-thrower”. Bloody brilliant. A bit like the German word for “hoover” which would translate into (literally) “dust sucker” (as you know, but others wouldn’t). Or parachute – which translates into the equivalent of “umbrella for falling”. Really, Germanic composita provide hours of entertainment… πŸ™‚

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  3. HAHAHAHAHA! That is frickin’ awesome! I had no idea it was a for reals book! Love the look on the mole’s face with the er, “deposit” on his head. Hilarious! Now what the heck is Jill’s Gymkhana? πŸ˜‰

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    • Isn’t he great? And every single one of the illustrations of the mole is hilarious. He is so outraged, and indignant, and focussed…
      As for Jill’s Gymkhana – classic English book for young girls, the type of thing my mother-in-law (70) would’ve grown up with. A gymkhana is a horse riding contest, so this is set in the horsey middle-class. All very wholesome and hearty (a bit like our good Mr A himself – his mother probably read the book as a child ;-)), the kind of teenage literature the plummy, educated middle-classes would’ve given their girls to read. Outdoorsy, mucking-in, stiff-upper-lip. Surprisingly, my kids loved stuff like that (Swallows and Amazons, The Railway Children).

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      • Oh my gosh — The Railway Children. Haven’t seen that in AGES. So good. There was another good one from that genre…The Castle of Adventure (I think?). Going to ask Mr. Google about that one! πŸ™‚

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