Oh GUYS, this BOOK. This book. I have enclosed a gallery below to fully explore the WONDER. It is making me full of capital letters and happiness. Let’s just say I practically leapt over the charity shop floor to pick it up. It’s probably the nearest I’ve ever come to a jeté
What we have here is a thing of utter joy. Published as far as I can figure out, somewhere around the 1950s/60s (?), it’s one of those books that radiates a sense of healthy (and slightly unnerving) jollity. Upon first look, it looks really simple and straightforward but it’s not. This book is full of layers. Seriously. And also really bizarrely proportioned heads.
We open with the tragic tale of Jimmy (2) : “Jimmy will be later for school again!” said his mummy. “He just doesn’t seem to be able to get up in the mornings?”
As his daddy set out for work that morning, he said: “I have an idea! After today I’m sure Jimmy will never be late again!”
What is this wondrous solution to inefficient parenting? THREE BABY RABBITS AND A MOTHER RABBIT WITH SEVERE SCALE ISSUES. Seriously, my love for this book practically exploded at this point and went supernova. Jimmy was proud to take his pets their food every morning – and because he had to get up early to do it, he was never late for school again!
The book continues in this blithely merry way throughout, juxtaposing a story with a pop up on every other double page spread with two totally unrelated vignettes that don’t get pop ups. One of my favourites is the ballad of Ben and Len, the guinea pigs (3) . Now, I don’t know about you but Ben or Len looks like he’s having a slight panic attack over that plate of food. I also greatly enjoy the awkwardness of that ‘look to camera’ by Ben or Len.
After that comes our next pop up (4) and it is the story of, wait for it, Peter who plays with his poodles in the park. If there is ever a more perfect sentence then I am yet to hear it. You just know he’s going to go and pick a peck of pickled peppers the moment he can. One of the best things about Peter’s scene is that his story is that he loses his grandmother’s spectacles in the park and they’re found by the youngest poodle – Pepi. Perfect!
I’ve also included a photo (4b) of the detail of the pop up. One of the things I always find fascinating about books like this are the construction values and how they’ve been put together.
The penultimate pop up (sorry, I’ll stop alliterating soon, blame Peter) is Michael and his bush-babies. Bush-babies. (!). In (5) we see him trying to entreat one off the table whilst his friend Jenny (in the BEST shoes), pets one in the background. However this is clearly set just before potential tragedy strikes…
“This window-lock is not very secure,” said Michael. “We must tie it up in case the little fellow forces it open.”Just then, the bush-baby Jenny was holding leapt from her arms and sprang across the room … they searched everywhere but the little animal stayed hidden.
“Here’s a cord!” says Jenny … what a surprise she had! She had grabbed the little bush-baby’s long tail, as it hid behind a chair. Soon the three pets were all playing happily together again.
Okay. That’s all alright then.
The last pop up (6) is, as if there was any doubt, of a similar standard. I’m a sucker for anything vaguely reminiscent of a Thelwell pony so it scores highly with me there. I’ve also got a lot of love for the bridle without a throatlatch and the hideously sensible jumper and breech combo. What puts the icing on the cake for this scene is the story.
Old Sham, the sheep-dog, used to settle down by the horse-trough at the same time every day. And every day his little mistress would come to the trough to give her pony, Hunter, a drink.
One day, Sham waited and waited but his mistress didn’t come to the trough. Shame got up … and saw his little mistress in tears, talking to her mummy. poor Sham couldn’t understand a word.
“Mummy, I can’t find Hunter anywhere!” said the little girl. “He must have run away.”
Her mummy smiled. “I quite forgot to tell you,” she said. “Daddy took him to the blacksmith to have a new set of shoes fitted while you were at school today.”
And presently the clip-clop of Hunter’s hooves could be heard coming down the road.
Sham could not understand what it was all about, but he was very glad to see his mistress smiling again. And he did notice Hunter’s extra shiny shoes.
Amazing, yes? The girl has no name! She’s the mysterious rider who loses her pony and drives a sheepdog to depression when she doesn’t turn up!
Suffice to say, this book is a keeper in so many ways. I hope you enjoy the gallery! 🙂