Monday, February 05, 2007


Travels With My Family

by Marie-Louise Gay, a favourite picture book author and illustrator. Her work with Don Gilmor and her own Stella books are absolutely fantastic - funny, cute, with an underhanded humour and wide appeal from kids right up to the grownups who read them to the kids.

Loving her material as I do, I was really looking forward to this early chapter book. The premise (family keeps taking crazy vacations to out-of-the-way places, things go awry, hilarity ensues) had promise, she has a great sense of humour, it just had to be great. Right? Right? Um, well...

I think something is not translating on paper, to be honest. Something about the tone leads me to the suspicion that hearing her read this aloud would, indeed, be side-splitting. But it feels kind of flat in the reading. None of the mishaps are really played up for laughs, none of the reactions lingered over to comic effect. The family simply moves from one ill-fated voyage to the next, with each episode kept short. It's like it might just be too dry and deadpan and again, maybe with a facial expression or tone of voice, it would be terrific. I'm kind of hoping to find an audiobook or animated version of this to see if my theory is correct, because I really hate for her to produce something that so completely does not reflect the sense of humour her other work shows.

So yeah, with heavy heart, I will be shelving this one and not really recommending it around to the kids who are always asking me for funny books. Sigh.

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