Review of small press and independent books.
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This has been in Pickleblossom's book collection for some time, and mostly been ignored; this week, she's suddenly fallen in love with it, and demands to have it read to her five times on the trot, at least once a day. It's by the author of the better-known Hairy Maclary and Slinky Malinki books, and, like them, is illustrated by the author; unlike them, it's a rampant piece of nonsense verse in the high classical manner.
'"Pass on the news," said the bombazine bear
To the taffeta cat, who was dressing her hair.
"The Dudgeon is coming - he's shy and polite.
Look after the Dudgeon... he's coming tonight!"'
Unfortunately, the taffeta cat wasn't paying attention; the message she passes on to the hopalong snoot in the ten-gallon hat isn't quite the one she received, and a game of Chinese Whispers ensues... by the time that the pineapple pig has passed the message on to the omnibus owl in his Regency wig, the Dudgeon's character has been so traduced that all the creatures are hiding in the bushes, tremblingly awaiting his terrible arrival.
I think that this is as good as anything of the kind by Edward Lear, and a good length ahead of anything I've come across by Dr. Seuss, both in text and illustrations. Pickleblossom, who is a year and three-quarters and appears to be trying to learn it by heart, says "Dudgeon coming tonight!"
One of these days I'll be on Booksy when I'm actually at home, and can nip off and check the bibliographic details, though I'm fairly certain it's Puffin.
What really distinguishes Lynley Dodd's work for me is the joy in words. It's not something I can easily describe, but you probably know what I mean: some books are totally pedestrian and boring, and some are good stories, and a few have the quality which you also find in good verse, of taking joy in the language for its own sake, because certain words used in certain ways are beautiful, or funny, or simply pleasing and right.