Digging up dad and other hopeful (and funny) stories by Morris Gleitzman

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Gleitzman has an amazing knack of telling a serious story in an eccentric way. In this collection of short stories there are some with an underlying, subtle message, but often this is hidden to all but the astute reader. There are stories that poke fun at the way adults operate, and particularly in the 'Burger Buns Behaving Badly' story and the 'Does my Mum Look Big in this?' tale, there are children reminding their politician parents of the need to behave in more responsible ways. A somewhat sadder tale tells of the child who must relocate from the home where her father’s ‘ashes’ have been scattered and desperately wants to collect as much of the backyard as possible to take with her to her new home. Fortunately, in all the stories, even though there are some sombre or thought-provoking issues, there are also quirky moments that are peculiarly funny.

Although this is not always a laugh-out-loud book, there are enough Gleitzman humour gems to entertain young readers. The first story introduced a few moments of confusion for me, there were too many generations involving spiders, but eventually the main point of the story became evident. Most of the stories though just demonstrated children attempting to solve adult-sized problems in unique ways. There is one exception – the story that tells of an unimpressive driver being given a lesson by a speed hump and some small discarded toys, remarkably told in the voice of the speed hump. Readers aged 10 and up will enjoy the journey, and hopefully recognise the light-hearted messages being communicated in Gleitzman’s wise and witty words.

Themes: Short stories, Humour, Parents, Politicians, Babysitting, Environmental issues.

Carolyn Hull