Thursday, May 14, 2009

Children's Books: My Extraordinary Life and Death by Doug McLeod

Although Doug McLeod is best known in Australia as a television writer -- The Comedy Company, Full Frontal and Sea Change and script-editing Kath and Kim -- when he has written books they have usually been for children or young adults. His comedy background led to his writing humorous and downright silly books. Sister Madge’s Book of Nuns, one of these, was on the Australian Children’s Book Council short list.

My Extraordinary Life and Death (Ford Street Publishing) started life as a commissioned blog. Now it’s out there as a book and very amusing it is, too. What the author has done is to “story” genuine Victorian-era illustrations with a supposed autobiography. Even the front and back cover flaps are part of the book. The front flap features “other books you may care to enjoy” -- Shakespeare the Extremely Early Years (a baby), Simple Tricks A Child Can Do (a complicated circus acrobatic performance) and Queen Victoria: Party Girl. The back flap directs you to the Web site which explains all.

The drawings are accompanied by a truly over-the-top storyline. For example, an illustration of a Victorian gentleman and a gardener with a shovel accompanies, “Father had a no-nonsense approach to education. If Denise or I were naughty he would tell the gardener to bury us for several hours.” It’s a good example of the style and humour of the book in general.

I suspect this book will be enjoyed more by adults or good readers who get the jokes than by younger, average or reluctant readers. It is still worth having, though, for its sheer, entertaining silliness.

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Blogger benjamin said...

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Friday, May 15, 2009 at 8:20:00 AM PDT  

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