Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Bouncing Boy – ILIA

©2008 CreateSpace

I don’t often have opportunity to read and review fairy tales, but I was intrigued by the description of this little book – written and illustrated by ILIA at Winsome Tales. The stories produced there are described as “Modern Day Fairy Tales” and are suggested for audiences young and old.

Jack is a fat boy who has lost his mother and father (the only people to ever have shown him kindness). He is ridiculed by all the people of his town for his size. No one knows his name for they have long since taken to calling him only some variation of Bouncing Boy. H
e heeds their taunts about eating too much and eats more. He hears their derisive comments about how sloppy he looks and takes no notice of his clothes or manners. Eventually he finds that his only refuge from the hatefulness of the townsfolk is to leave and find a place in the surrounding woods. When by some unknown magic the people of the town are afflicted with a disease that is the manifestation of their hatefulness to others, Jack finds that it is up to him and a bent and wizened old man to travel across the desert to find a cure.

The bulk of the story is the adventures of this unlikely pair as they seek the cure and then bring it back to the village. In the course of the telling we learn that Bouncing Boy does indeed bounce, and that he only wants to help the villagers in their plight because of his desire to do what would honor his long-dead mother. “For my parents, and for my elders,” he repeats to himself over and over, especially when he gets discouraged.

The writing of this tale (whether transcribing an old lesson handed down orally for generations, or translating a fable from an old country long forgotten it is hard to tell) has places of ruggedness about it. The story seems to jump and bob from time to time. That said, the tale is entertaining, if a bit long for the 4th to 6th grade reading level it’s written to. You will enjoy following Jack and the elder as they encounter cliffs to surmount and mud bogs to roll through. The descriptive passages telling of the stinky situation that the villagers have gotten themselves into will bring vivid pictures to mind.

I give The Bouncing Boy three and one-half reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, April 2, 2009

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