Missing Marvin by Sue deGennaro

cover image

Scholastic, 2018. ISBN 9781742769509
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Bullying. Practical jokes. Feelings. When Marvin finds his friends' jokes are just too much, he goes missing, so it is up to the friends to find him, reassure him, and for Marvin to say how he feels when they tease.
Marvin and his friends work for Baggage Handlers United and get along very well. They all do the baggage handling work that is required, and while Marvin really likes his work, his friends feel the need to play practical jokes on their workmates to fill the time.
Barry, Shelley and Ivan sometimes place balloons on the luggage causing it to rise out of reach, sometimes they put fish in the water cooler, and sometimes have a bucket of water placed on a door so that when Marvin opens the door, he gets covered in water. He becomes less and less amused with their pranks, and begins to think that they only seem to be targeting him. And one day when he is wet all over, he goes home and stays at home for several days. Meanwhile his friends begin to notice that he has not returned to work, and play the jokes on each other. They come to see that they are not so funny after all, and when Marvin returns the next day, they are able to tell each other how they feel.
All is resolved and each of the friends is happy. Each has been able to understand the other and Marvin has been able to tell them how he feels when they plays jokes.
I do love Australian author and illustrator, Sue deGennaro's work (Milly loves ants, Peas and quiet, Reindeer's Christmas surprise and The vegetable ark come to mind) with her soft illustrations, full of humour and not a little pathos when needed. Kids will laugh out loud at the looks on the faces of the animals she chooses to use as her protagonists and scan the backgrounds of each page to glean more jokes.
I can easily imagine this book being read out loud and an astute teacher using the interest in the story to discuss gently how people feel when they are on the receiving end of a joke, or point out the similarities between making a joke and bullying. And I do like the double meaning of the title.
Fran Knight