________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 34. . . .May 12, 2017


A Trio of Tolerable Tales.

Margaret Atwood. Illustrated by Dušan Petricic.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2017.
67 pp., hardcover & epub, $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55498-933-1 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-934-8 (epub).

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Teresa Iaizzo.

***1/2 /4



Rude Ramsay resided in a ramshackle rectangular residence with a roof garden, a root cellar and a revolving door. A rampart ranged down the right hand side of the run down real estate. (From “Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes”.)

When Bob was a baby, he was abandoned in a basket, beside a beauty parlor. His bubble headed mum, a brunette, had become a blonde in the beauty parlor, and was so blinded by her burnished brilliance that baby Bob was blotted from her brain. By and by she became dismayed and bought an advertisement – “Baby in basket. Does not have a bat shaped birthmark” – but it drew a blank. (From “Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda”.)

Wenda was a willowy child with wispy hair and wistful eyes. When she was just a wee one, her wise and watchful parents were whisked away by a weird whirlwind. (From “Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery”.)


A Trio of Tolerable Tales is a delightful collection of three children’s books written by Margaret Atwood and illustrated by Dušan Petricic: “Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes”, “Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda”, and “Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery”. Each story makes use of alliterative verse in order to amplify the absurdity and hilarity of each main character’s plight.

     In “Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes”, readers meet Ramsay, a red haired boy who lives with his “revolting relatives”, and, in a bid to rid himself of their revolting fare, he decides to run away with his best friend who happens to be a rat. Ramsay finds himself in a picturesque garden filled with roses, raspberries, and, of course, radishes! But these radishes are not your everyday vegetables. Along the way, Ramsay makes a new friend, creates a rumpus, and lives happily ever after.

     Similarly, in “Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda”, readers meet Bob, an orphan who is abandoned as a baby near a beauty parlor where he meets three dogs, a boxer, a beagle, and a borzoi. The three dogs take Bob in and take care of him throughout his childhood. However, once he grows up, he no longer believes he is human; rather he thinks he is a dog. As a result of his upbringing, Bob is very shy around humans, until one day he meets an orphan named Dorinda who helps Bob attain his happily ever after.

     Lastly, in “Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery”, readers are introduced to another orphan, Wenda, who is in search of her parents who went missing in a mysterious whirlwind accident. Along with her woodchuck friend Wesley, Wenda encounters the Widow Wallop who is secretly kidnapping orphaned children and forcing them to do laundry in her wunderground washery. In a series of absurd events, Wenda and her friends defeat the widow and are all happily reunited with their parents.

     In the end, I really enjoyed Atwood’s fresh take on the children’s genre. She took the quintessential hero’s story, but flipped it on its head, focussing instead on the absurd, and oftentimes hilarious side of the journey. Her words were then perfectly matched with Dušan Petricic’s illustrations which expertly captured the many quirks and eccentricities of Atwood’s characters. His drawings have a way of capturing the hilarity of each situation without being ridiculous. Thus, although they are in black and white, they are so detailed and whimsical that they are without a doubt the perfect pairing to Atwood’s writing style.

     I would highly recommend this book to children and adults alike. You are definitely in for a treat.

Highly Recommended.

Teresa Iaizzo is a librarian with the Toronto Public Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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