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.
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) :
The 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.]
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.
The 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.
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.