John M W Smith
on Oct. 11, 2015 :
The Double Pleasure of two books in one
This is a book of childhood reminiscences in the form of anecdotes from the author's life, told from her own point of view when she was around seven years of age. I smiled throughout and laughed out loud after every few pages. It is so eventful, so funny and so naturally depicted that one cannot doubt its authenticity. Childhood should be filled with thrills of all kinds, and Patricia Puddle's childhood does not disappoint. I mean, how many children find themselves all alone on a leaking boat, heading downstream in the dark, with no imaginable prospect of rescue until a helicopter appears, spotlight blazing, to lower a man who scoops you away to safety?
I find it so sad that parents of young children in this age group mostly select books that they think their children should read rather than the kind that kids really want to read. For I am sure that if the children for whom this book was written had a totally free choice, it is a book like this that they would select--but their parents, with their stodgy ideas about good education, good behaviour and what is proper, would probably select something dead boring and depressingly wholesome which would make their kids' eyes glaze over after a few pages. And then parents wonder why their kids lose the reading habit that they were so anxious to instil!
A good book for children doesn't always have to have subliminal messages about morality, generosity, altruism, and sacrifice within its pages. It can equally be just funny and engaging and nothing else, as this book is. The idea is to make a book an enjoyable read, full of fun and laughter, and Double Trouble delivers this in more than sufficient measure. For example, how very liberating it must feel for a child to be able to push away a nauseating tripe pie prepared by a tyrannical aunt and instead dine on an entire bottle of tomato sauce!
There is no bigger compliment I can pay this book than to say that having read it, kids will most definitely go in search of similar books to read. Spontaneously. On their own initiative. And I'm sorry, but the same may not be said so easily about some books that their parents might have selected as being most appropriate for them. I think some of the sketches could be slightly improved upon, but this very minor criticism does not detract from the quality of the book as a whole. It is so obvious that the author very much enjoyed writing about this series of hilarious and often amazing events from childhood, and that she very competently communicates this enjoyment to her readers. If any artistic licence has been taken with the depiction of some of the events, it is hard to put one's finger on it for sure--and again this is a tribute to this author's talent.
Go on, give your kids a laugh, buy this book. It will linger long in their memories
(reviewed the day of purchase)