Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Children’s Book Review, Excuse Me!

by Susan Stephenson,

Excuse Me! is a children’s picture book by Dave Hughes and Holly Ife, illustrated by Phlip Bunting and published by Scholastic Australia (2017.) RRP: $Au 16.99 HB. I have previously reviewed Bunting’s Koalas Eat Gum Leaves and Mopoke.

From the publisher:

Martha May has marvellous manners. She always says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ ...and she most certainly DOES NOT FART! But what will happen on the day of the Baked Bean Bonanza?!

Catch a whiff of this hilarious tale about finally letting go, from Dave Hughes, Holly Ife and Philip Bunting.

Martha May is one polite little character, always ready with her marvellous manners. She is dainty and never makes any “rude” noises. (Fascinating discussion to have with kids as to why some noises are said to be “rude”, and where manners come from.) The authors make the most of alliteration, the shock value of a story that is basically about passing wind and a simple though attention-grabbing story structure. Most importantly, Excuse Me! is bursting with humour, and I predict kids will love it.

Bunting is rapidly becoming one of my favourite children’s illustrators. The characters are all depicted as farm animals, with Martha May prettily dressed in pink tutu and flowery hairclip. Bunting adds interesting perspectives and genuinely funny details that will reward careful observation. I loved the sulphur-crested cockatoo that is seen swearing after Martha May’s fart, and a moment later lying prone on a paling fence with his legs in the air and a flabbergasted expression. I also admired Bunting’s choice of colours and the way each page is perfect to share with a watching group of kids.

Read this one aloud to kids if you want to guarantee audience hilarity and even mayhem! It does have the f-word (fart) but it is used once in a pragmatic, and then secondly in an understandable and climactic way. Excuse Me! is a definite contender for my top picture books reviewed in 2018. Check out my Top Picture Books of 2017 and Top Picture Books of 2016.

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