At a local used bookstore, while walking along the picture books aisle, I spotted a text that looked like it had at six to seven decades on it's shoulders. The book was The Funny Thing (a first library edition, too), one that I'd heard of, and even more important, one by Wanda Gag. For those of you who don't know, Wanda Gag is perhaps the best picture book author/illustrator of the 20's and 30's. Ms. Gag was the recipient of two Newbery Honor awards (for writting) and two Caldecott Honor awards (for her beautifully-detailed pen-and-ink drawings). And though Ms. Gag wrote only a handful of books, her illustrations were some of the first in picture book history to be recognized as 'real' art. That's what makes each of them special.
Now onto the review. Within the first page of the story, we are introduced to Bobo, a baby-faced man who lives in a cave on top of the mountains all by his lonesome. Well, except for the animals, which Bobo takes time out to feed every day. He even has a stand where animals can feast on an assortment of dainties including, "nut cakes for the fuzzy-tailed squirrels" and "seed puddings for the pretty fluttering birds". Everything goes well for Bobo until on a beautiful day, he encounters an animal that looks like a cross between a dog and a dragon. This 'funny thing', as he calls it, talks, insisting that it is an aMinal, rather than an animal. The funny thing then asks what Bobo has for him to eat. After showing the funny thing all the different types of food he has to offer, and the funny thing rejecting each food, Bobo learns of what The Funny Thing loves to eat. Dolls. Yes, dolls. Bobo is terribly upset that The Funny Thing eats dolls, thinking of all the small children left doll-less by the aminals appetite. So Bobo decides to combine all the foods he has to make something The Funny Thing might actually like. And it works. But there's one problem: The Funny Things tails keeps growing longer and nothing can seem to stop it.
Wanda Gags creativity cannot be matched, and her books are some of the few that are just as good as they were the day they were published. The text in the story, as you may have noticed are hand-lettered. And, like always, the pictures are amazing. I'm tellin' you guys, Wanda Gag's work is some of the best out there.
R, your friendly neighborhood reviewer