Friday, January 21, 2011
Rude Stories, written by Jan Andrews and illustrated by Francis Blake. Tundra, 2010. $21.99 ages 8 and up
when birds wore hats and coats and
collars and ties because they hadn't
any feathers yet., when lizards had
to slither instead of darting because
they kept tripping over their long,
There's nothing rude in that, I know,
but surely by now you can trust I'll
get to the rude part when the time
It takes a venerable and gifted storyteller like Jan Andrews to bring this group of witty, worldly stories to a new generation of readers. What fun they are to share with children who are sure to love the humor and the voice she has created for the telling. If you have any interest in learning about the art of storytelling, here is a stellar collection to help you on your way. I will suggest that you read Beware the Spirits as your introduction, despite the fact that it is the last one told. Here is just a taste:
"The stories knew it was their job to be passed on, to be carried to other times and places. They knew they were supposed to be making people laugh and cry and shiver and scream all over. They knew they were being put out of work."
Kids will love these stories as they want to hear about others getting in trouble, especially when they can live vicariously through those actions and adventures. Who doesn't love hearing about burping and farting, when it happens to someone else. The laughs don't stop!
Jan Andrews often uses a reference character from one story to the next, and encourages the imagination by creating fanciful settings and times for her listeners. It is always evident in the language she chooses for the telling:
"It was the once when giraffes had ears so long they could be wrapped around their necks to use as scarves in cold weather. It was the once when hawks didn't soar, they scuttled. Bathtubs were all at the bottom of gardens. They weren't in sheds; they were out in the open."
The stories are each very different although they share a common theme.
The artwork matches the humor of the stories, with bright colors and simple lines. We get a clear picture of the weird and wacky characters who people the stories thanks to his skilled imaginings.