Wednesday, August 15

The Cat on the Mat is Flat

by Andy Griffiths
illustrations by Terry Denton
Feiwel and Friends 2007
(Pan Macmillan, AU 2006)

"From the author of The Day My Butt Went Psycho!"

This book is just screaming for that kind of attention.

Take one part Dr. Seuss, one part Edward Lear, place in a blender with a dash of Dav Pilkey and a bit of Cartoon Network juice, pulse until the blender begins to smoke and then breathe the fumes deeply until you get a little dizzy... and then you, too, can author a book like this.

I like this book. I was once a boy. Some things just don't leave you no matter how old you get, like anarchic juvenile nonsense humor. It's got pigs on rocket-powered logs. It's got boys who repeatedly roll down a hill until they are sick and dizzy and landing smelly swill. It's got glue-dispensing kangaroos. It's got yaks. I rest my case.

No! It's also got those beginning reader rhyme patterns that Seuss made famous half a century ago. It's meant for tweens but reads like a baby book and that's a good part of it's humor; it lets an accomplished reader take stock of where they were as readers not so long ago and allows them to enjoy the satire. It is not sophisticated by any means, but instead is meant to be read as pure joy. It's a piece of candy eaten in secret between meals.

Here's are summaries of two chapters, taken from Andy Griffith's website:
Ed and Ted and Ted’s Dog Fred
In which Fred and Ted and Ted’s dog Fred do quite a lot of things that rhyme with ‘ed’.

Duck in a Truck in the Muck
In which Chuck the Duck gets his ice-cream truck stuck in muck and Buck the Duck attempts to help him get it unstuck with the aid of the muck sucker upper on his muck-sucking truck.
Yup, it's all like that.

Since the Australian cover contains a panel carton of a cat getting whacked by a rat with a bat I'm guessing the American version will be somewhat more tame -- can't be selling that sort of violence to children up front. Too bad, because I think you'd really galvanize armies of boys who would jump at this. What am I saying is, one smart pup is going to ferret this book out at the library and word-of-mouth is going to have the entire sixth grade reading this book in the same weekend across the country. One Friday they're all be yawning over the ancient hoopla over Pottermaina and the following Monday they'll all be quoting entire sections of the book to one another the way kids did after watching Monty Python or the original Saturday Night Live.

Or not.

Probably a good idea to check it out anyway, just in case.

Update: In a bit of syncronicity rarely seen here at the excelsior file, Fuse #8 has featured Andy Griffiths on her blog today!


fusenumber8 said...

Great minds, as they say, think alike. I had no idea you'd written this post. Batta bing, eh?

Anonymous said...

This sounds like exactly what I needed two years ago when a teacher asked me "My guys are crazy about Captain Underpants, but they've read them all. What else is there like that?"

Thanks for the review.