CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 18 . . . .May 13, 2005
From the opening lines of Elliott's picturebook, the scenario that Matthew is a monkey lover is set. Matthew adores these banana crazy animals whose influence on him leads him to the strange behavior of a "banana crazy" boy. He eats only foods containing bananas, such as banana chips, banana pie, banana pudding - well, you get the idea! After two weeks, the result is a real transformation, "Kablooey"! In fact, Matthew transmogrifies into a monkey before the readers' eyes! Now the problem is not just his diet; it's his behavior as well that prompts his parents to try anything to stop the monkey business - doctors, veterinarians, herbalists, animal trainers and even a psychic. It is only after another visit to the Zoo and Matthew's fascination with the elephant and its diet that Matthew' s weird looks and behavior are predictably altered.
The use of exaggerated wry humour and "over the top" storytelling, along with repetition, is reminiscent of Munsch stories. Although this story is listed as suitable for pre-school to grade 2, the introduction of some higher level vocabulary, and, in particular, the use of the word, "transmogrify" might make one suspect of the chosen audience. But this word, defined as "to change or alter greatly and often with humorous results," works in this book, as do other interesting descriptive adjectives, adverbs and even nouns because they are explained in context and pictures.
Both author and illustrator have worked in the animation industry, and their experience is reflected in the total book design of an animated text and illustrations which shows a variety in layout. The pen and watercolour artwork is bright, colourful and playful, bringing out the silliness and humour. The energy of the cartoon-like drawings are in keeping with the lighthearted, comical writing style.
The Boy Who Loved Bananas could be a fun read-aloud, especially when a young one becomes fixated on a particular food.
Reesa Cohen is an Instructor of Children's Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.