Blue in the Face: a Story of Risk, Rhyme, and Rebellion by Gerry Swallow is one that I pulled off of our new book cart. When reading the book jacket, I noticed that the author is a stand-up comic and wrote Ice Age: The Meltdown. I’m always up for a good funny story, so I checked it out.
It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really live up to my expectations. Elspeth Pule is a horrid child who rules her parents by throwing mega tantrums. And throwing is right—she throws everything she can get her hands on while her parents cower and plead. If that doesn’t work, she holds her breath, and they give in. After seeking advice from a professional, who advises them to let her hold her breath until she passes out, they do just that. Elspeth throws a major hissy fit because they won’t let her have a llama in their apartment and she holds her breath till she passes out.
She wakes up in the land of nursery rhymes, but the ones we’re all familiar with are wrong—they’re all propaganda put out by King Krool (a.k.a. Old King Cole) who is a tyrant of the worst kind. The actual facts of the nursery rhymes are much worse. For example, Little Bo Peep didn’t lose her sheep, Krool stole, cooked and ate them. The nursery rhyme characters are happy to see Elspeth, though, because they believe that she’s the chosen one, the one who will fulfill the prophesy and free them from Krool’s rule. Elspeth, on the other hand, has no intention of helping anyone. She wants to get back home and let her parents have it. Predictably, Elspeth’s trials teach her the value of friendship, and she grows as a person. But, will her growth be enough to help her stop the king, save the people and get Elspeth home? I’m sure you can guess.
I can’t say that I would rush to put this in a child’s hands, but I wouldn’t discourage it either. I have a lot of parents who don’t like their kids reading Junie B. Jones and Diary of a Wimpy Kid because of the examples set by the kids, so I might warn concerned parents that Elspeth, for at least two-thirds of the book, is a horrible example, even though she does change.