Tuesday, January 14, 2020

7. A Trio of Tolerable Tales

A Trio of Tolerable Tales. Margaret Atwood. Illustrated by Dusan Petricic. 2017. 52 pages. [Source: Library] [Short stories; children's book; humor]

Premise/plot: A Trio of Tolerable Tales is a collection of three short stories—or tales. The stories are Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, Wandering Wenda. Each story is premise driven. This is how I imagine the book’s origin: I dare you to write a story using alliteration! Atwood: I accept that dare! I’ll write THREE stories and show you who’s boss!

Each story is an adventure if you define adventure loosely. The characters aren’t really shaped in any traditional way—the characters , the plot, everything is driven by the need to start with a particular letter. In the first story, it’s the letter r with a few wr words thrown in. In the second it is the letters b and d. In the final story, it’s the letter w.

My thoughts: If the use of obscure or mostly obscure vocabulary words matters more to you than story, sense, or characters...then do I have a book for you. There’s nothing wrong with premise driven books, I just wish it wasn’t marketed to young readers. I doubt that a new reader—say second grade—would have the patience to endure such a tedious, no, TOLERABLE book. The more reluctant a reader is, the worse this one will go. I do see it being appealing to the Matilda-like and Amy-like precocious and voracious reader.

But essentially I don’t recommend this one to most young readers. It would be a tiresome read aloud, I imagine.

© 2020 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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