Monday, 1 October 2018

Following The Logic, by Pippa Goodhart

I do love a simple story that makes logical sense in the barmiest of ways.  Some of my favourite picture books take an idea and follow it to a logical, very funny, conclusion that still manages to surprise.

Here are three prime examples, and I’d love to know of more –

In Oliver Jeffers’ ‘Stuck’, Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree, so he does what many of us have done in the same situation, and he throws his shoe at the kite in the tree.  But it doesn’t dislodge the kite.  It, too, is stuck in the tree.  

Floyd then throws up more and bigger things of kinds we perhaps haven’t yet tried throwing into trees, such as a whale and house.

How does Oliver Jeffers solve this situation?  Floyd suddenly thinks of using a saw.  We assume that saw is going to be used to cut down the tree  … but, no!  Floyd swerves away from that, and chucks the saw into the tree … and at last the kite falls out of it.  So silly, and yet so wonderfully logical!

Leapfrog early reading book ‘Little Joe’s Big Race’, written by Andy Blackford and illustrated by Tim Archbold, follows the logic of an egg and spoon race.  Joe, egg and spoon in hand, races, coming last but keeping on racing, on and on.  He races so far over so long that the egg hatches a chicken!

The chicken grows, and Joe grows too as he runs, until he finally circles the earth to end up back at school sports day.  We already know he didn’t win the egg and spoon race.  But it turns out that he does win the chicken and spade race! Hooray!

‘Professional Crocodile’ by Giovanna Zoboli and Mariachiara Di Giorgio is a wordless picture book. It shows the Crocodile getting up and going to work in a very human way.  

Its only on the last spread that we finally find out what he work is.  We see him arriving at work, then undressing and putting towel around his middle before finally appearing … as a ‘naked’ crocodile on display in a zoo.  Of course! You didn’t think a crocodile would be a teacher or something, did you?!  Well, yes, of course we did, given what’s gone before.  But it’s a delight to be fooled in this way.

What other logical sequences to fun conclusions in picture books can you think of?


Penny Dolan said...

I'm a big fan of "logical joke" stories like these, Pippa, and so agree about the fun and delight withing such quirky titles.
However - and sadly? - when I'm searching for picture books to read during Library Storytimes (4's and Under), I have to choose carefully as the youngest children may not understand the concept, let alone see the joke. An older child will (eg) understand the role of a teacher and know why the book is funny. An under three possibly won't.
Not a crit of this lovely post but people might find it a useful point to bear in mind when working on picture book texts. nb. I am definitely not saying all books should be dull and straightforward!

Lucy Rowland said...

Thanks for your post, Pippa. I love STUCK! It's a great book and I agree, those barmy but logical books are really fun. You've got me trying to think of more now. I'll keep an eye on this comments section to see what others come up with!

Pippa Goodhart said...

You're absolutely right, Penny, that children have to be of an age when they are secure about what is 'normal' before they find messing with that normality funny. I remember reading 'Moo Says the Cockerel' to very small children who just found it puzzling rather than funny. Mind you, my middle-aged husband fails to 'get' Professional Crocodile, so I don't know what that shows!

Pippa Goodhart said...

Thanks, Lucy!

Jane Clarke said...

Also love the daftness. One of my favourites - If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff