Sunday, 13 January 2013

Jack and the Flumflum Tree by Julia Donaldson, Reviewed by Tamsyn Murray

Jack has a granny and his granny has spots. Not any old spots, either - she's covered from head to toe in enormous purple lesions and the doctor's prognosis is grim. There's only one cure for Granny - she needs the fruit of the flumflum tree and she needs it NOW. Otherwise it's curtains for the old dear.*

Instead of packing her off to the mercies of the NHS, intrepid Jack builds a boat and sets sail for the only place where the flumflum grows - the remote and dubiously-named island of Blowyernose. With him are his hastily-assembled crew of Stu and Rose, who I suspect were chosen for their conveniently lyrical names - they're certainly not much help on Jack's quest and get him into all kinds of difficulties. Luckily, he has a sack full of seemingly-useless-but-actually-quite-handy household objects to ensure the success of the mission. I won't spoil the ending but let's just say there's one less flumflum fruit in the world.

This is another pretty much perfect picture book by story-teller extraordinare, Julia Donaldson. Teamed with David Roberts' distinctive illustrative style, the rhyming text bounces along at a cracking pace. There's the kind of wordy repetition that little ones adore, plenty of glorious detail in the pictures and fun galore in Jack's adventures on the way to Blowyernose. You may wonder whether the danger-filled journey is all in Jack's head; I couldn't possibly say but I can't help noticing that Granny recovers from her illness suspiciously fast. What I do know is that I've set sail for Blowyernose with my fourteen month old son approximately 345 times in the last week and it's still our most popular destination.

So, Jack and the Flumflum Tree gets a big thumbs up from us. Did you ever doubt that it wouldn't?

*OK, he doesn't actually say she's going to croak but it's definitely implied.

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