Sunday, April 30, 2017

Uncle Bob - Reviewed!!

Tales of My Uncle Bob
by Chris Robinson (writer), Claire Wildish (illustrator)

reviewed by Toby Berry

"The water at this place was deep enough to swallow a house, if that was a sort of thing you were likely to want to do."

This book will have readers smiling from page to page and front to back. Robinson is funny and drops quirky sentences and stories like little surprises between more serious verse. Each chapter relates a tale that may or may not be entirely true as recalled by the narrator whose Uncle Bob was "not so much born as discovered." He was reportedly found in a boab tree and then bundled up and left at the post office. He was then discovered and taken in by Miss Mary O'Toole. Hmmm, coincidence, or is this allegorical?

Uncle Bob's stories involve his life wandering the Australian desert droving cattle, at least mostly. In one story, Uncle Bob is swallowed by a snake. He escapes back out the mouth by climbing the rungs of the ribs of the shocked reptile. So, of course, readers are thinking Jonah and the whale. Then suddenly, "...he realized that as he had made his way out, he had turned the whole snake inside out, and the poor, enormous reptile...his insides on the outside, completely the wrong way round!" Did Uncle Bob destroy evil, or was it just a silly story and a snake?

The book is an easy read, and the sometimes quirky angles bring The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster to mind. The illustrator for Robinson’s tales, Claire Wildish, draws whimsical and fun artwork for the book, which is also reminiscent of the black and white simple sketches in Juster’s work. The author is brilliant at his craft, and his book is the kind that you pick up repeatedly when you need a lighthearted read. A good way to end any day, whether bad, good, or frightful, Robinson’s book should sit on the bedside stand, tattered and well worn.

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Buy "Tales of my Uncle Bob here"!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cockroach printing with Robyn Buttered Toast

Last year I considered studying again but nothing about it really excited me.  Somehow, I have accidentally, magically ended up getting printing master classes from my very good friend Robyn Finlay. She likes tea and rust and dirt, so she never thinks it's weird when I ask her to help me print cockroaches! 

(N.B My gorgeous children call her "Buttered Toast" because...she LOVES buttered toast!)