Yobbos do yoga by Phillip Gwynne

cover image

Ill. by Andrew Joyner. Little Hare, 2013. ISBN 9781921714832.
(Age: 4+) Warmly recommended. Picture book. Humour. First impressions. Many people come to look at the house next door which is up for rent, the last very noisy occupants having left. Dad is hopeful about having no neighbours so that he can do his yoga sessions, requiring peace and quietness. But into the house come three untidy looking men who are delighted to find a house where they can store their cars, allow their dogs to rampage around the yard, and hold loud, noisy parties. Dad is most unhappy.
Dad calls them yobbos, a word new to his daughter. He explains that his means layabouts, yahoos and louts, and when her ball goes over the fence, he tells her not to go over to fetch it. But she does.
Life continues with cars filling the back yard, their bodies up on bricks. The parties seem to be getting bigger and louder, while Dad is in knots trying to do his yoga.
One day their car won't start and the three next door lean over the fence and offer to help. With the car fixed they go on their way. Soon another party is being held, and the two go over to ask whether they can turn down the music to allow dad to continue his yoga. A neat resolution sees the neighbours coming together.
This is an endearing story of judging books by their cover, or by how they look, and is a treat to read. With its jaunty drawings, combining pen an ink, digitally combined with gouache and ink wash, the five main characters are delightful. The three new neighbours with their assorted facial hair, tattoos, thongs and ugg boots are easily identifiable, as are the long suffering father and daughter. Each has a different perspective on what they value in their homes, and when these ideas clash, they must come to some arrangement. And it is not as hard as they think.
A lovely story which will make adults smile and children laugh, the theme of getting along will appeal to teachers and parents everywhere.
Fran Knight