Mama Humour

So I just realised I forgot to post the pics of my library in my last post. Here it is!

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Admittedly, we don’t spend a huge amount of time reading here. However, I’m guessing this will change once we get the custom seat cushion for the bench put in.

To combat the hypocrisy of berating my husband for keeping 30-year-old text books, I have decided to reread at least three books a year to validate their shelf space. In particular, my last book of the year will be a reread. My inaugural read for the year was Raymond Chandler’s High Window. Yet again I was struck by his smooth prose. He epitomises the film noir genre and his dialogue is pure gold. Highly recommended.

I also viciously attacked Iris’s book hoard and managed to whittle it down by EIGHT books! Out of like two hundred but hey, to a book addict this is still pretty big.

Anyway with that massive effort, I thought I could afford to get Iris a new book.

So you know how sometimes when your kid has asked you about a million on five questions? So at a million and six you decide to give them the most ridiculous answer you can think of just to see if they buy it? This book is all about that. It allows us to talk rubbish and allows our kids to TRY and correct us. Furthermore, because I love using that word, we get to argue with our kids exactly like how they argue with us over every. single. thing.

This is a ball

Much like The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak, This is a ball by Beck and Matt Stanton gives the kind of dry humour that both children and adults would understand.

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As you can see, it’s the kind of book that would make people go -_-. This is my kind of humour.

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And it continues on in this vein.

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Right up to the not-ending.

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Hopefully, she’ll be chuckling along with me to Blackadder in no time!

Politely Murderous

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I definitely have a thing for black humour. When presented in the innocent oeuvre of children’s books, the delivery is so deadpan, it often reduces me to tears. Following in the vein of Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back (see my review here), Daniel Miyares’ Pardon Me! is kiddy macabre at its best.

Pardon Me! ShadowPardon Me! Frog

It’s about a bird, a little yellow bird with a large beak, sitting on what appears to be a rock in the middle of a body of water. He’s happy in his solitude, this bird is. Then along comes a great big stork asking pardon for intruding on the little yellow bird’s reverie to share his rock. After this, a blasé frog leaps into the tableau, settling himself next to the stork. A turtle swims over next. All of these creatures uttering the terribly polite, “Pardon me” as they crowded onto the rock. All the while the yellow bird is growing increasingly irate. Finally, when I fox calls from the shore the same two words followed by a half uttered warning, the yellow bird explodes into a rage. He chases them all off and is left, once more, gloriously alone. However, the fox’s warning is soon dreadfully clear when the head of a crocodile appears in front of his body, which is actually what the bird is sitting on.

Pardon Me! FoxPardon Me! Leave Me Alone!

I can NOT get enough of these exchanged looks of glee and fright portrayed so succinctly on the page.

Pardon Me! Face Off

Yet, it is the final two pages that get me totally rolling on Iris’s bedroom floor.

Pardon Me! BurpPardon Me! Last Page

Quite apart from the beautiful illustrations, the words are FEW. Not only does this mean less work for the reading adult, but with the story being portrayed in part by pictures, like Michael Stephen King’s Leaf (my first ever review), it allows the child to form the story for themselves, filling in the emotions, action, etc. Pardon Me! is definitely going on my Book Depository wish list.

Wicked Morals

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One of the things I love most about children’s books is just how funny they can be without trying very hard. Sometimes, however, they can be downright hilarious. When I picked up I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, I did not expect to be cackling like a deranged hyena in the middle of Kinokunia in Kuala Lumpur, much to the amusement of my daughter and embarrassment of my husband.

Yes, it’s that funny. Not in a someone-farted-at-the-wrong-moment kind of way, but in a pretty evil way if you really think about it. It’s like adding fois gras to macaroni and cheese. So the joke is really more for us parents, which is becoming more common but still rare enough to be appreciated when encountered. I was so impressed with how much tickling power it possessed, I made several adult friends and two teenage nieces read it. While I stood over them, bouncing from foot to foot waiting for them to reach the punch line. Finally when they snorted chortles, I grinned, repeating “it’s funny right, right?” and bashed their shoulders with my elbow in a friendly manner.

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When reading it to Iris, I thoroughly enjoy giving voices to each of the animals as the text is simple and able to bring out the beautiful deadpan humour to great effect. The illustrations by Klassen absolutely match the style and plot being unadorned but subtly detailed.

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It also teaches two important lessons:

1. Treasure your stuff

2. Do NOT steal stuff, especially not from big, furry bears with unhealthy attachments to said stuff.

While Iris does not necessarily get the implied off-page carnivorous retribution, which I’m in no hurry to explain, she understands the plot and is very empathetically happy for bear when he finds his hat again.

There really isn’t any other way to describe how excellent this book is without you reading it or my telling you what happens. It’s quite famous having won several awards so you should be able to find it in most bookshops, but if you want to know just what the heck it’s about anyway, read on.

Bear loses his hat. He goes around asking everyone whether they’ve seen it. He comes across rabbit who is wearing a hat. Rabbit denies vehemently having seen the hat. “I would not steal a hat. Don’t ask me anymore questions.” Bear, being a typical blundering ursine creature says, “Ok. Thank you anyway” and carries on.

When he’s finally despairing of ever finding his hat, deer comes along and prompts bear into remembering he had seen his hat. He rushes back to confront the thief.

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Bear is resplendently happy having been united with his crimson head adornment. Squirrel comes looking for rabbit. Bear denies vehemently having seen any rabbit.

“I would not eat a rabbit. Don’t ask me anymore questions.”

“Ok. Thank you anyway.”

“I love my hat.”