Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
The Moulin Rouge of picture books??? Vivid, bold, dark and romantic all at once. Wonderful!
on 24 October 2007
This is a masterpiece of a picture book, which I can best describe as mid-20th century American gangster cinema sort-of squashed into a quirkily romantic children's book. Intrigued? You should be. Read on...
I have never before read a book narrated by a spoon, but boy! spoons can tell a good tale if this is anything to go by. The Spoon in question is the one from the age-old favourite nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle. Following that age-old romantic ideal to run away with a "Dish", off he goes with the Spode bowl of his dreams! They sail away and head to the city that never sleeps, New York, New York.
With a daring and dazzling acrobatic double act, they make it to the big time and the high life..... but it is sadly short-lived. They are foolish and frivolous, whilst gangsters from the cutlery drawer are waiting in the wings. Stony broke once again, and desperate, the dish and the spoon commit a daring bank raid which doesn't end well. The Dish is ..er.. extensively cracked... and the spoon does time behind bars.
All's well that ends well though and happily the pair meet again (25 years later - great Silver wedding anniversary present!?)), their love undiminished and once again, Hey Diddle Diddle.... The Dish ran away with the Spoon.
I think the story is darker than Mini Grey's previous books, with richer depths to its underlying themes: as well as enduring love, there's boom and bust, and the ephemeral nature of fame. That said, both my boys (3 and 5) are fascinated by the more shady characters. They also point out an abundance of little details and hints of humour in the illustrations, amused for example by as the spoon in his driving goggles during their heyday, and the despondent knife and fork duo in the background at the end of the book. They think it is very funny that the dish and spoon try to disguise themselves when committing the bank robbery with just mutant-ninja-turtle-style strips over the eyes which fool noone.
All the pictures include lots of jostling background details that you don't notice at once but spot later. For example throughout the book as the dish and the spoon seek freedom, the coin-like moon shows the statue of liberty's face. However at the end of the story, the moon looks like the fresh-faced dish of their youth, a lovely touch. A lovely book.