Abby Hanlon, Dory Fantasmagory
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group, 2014, 160p
There are so many picture and chapter books for children that it is a real challenge to find the suitable ones, those who have beautiful illustrations, the wit of the words and the abundance of moral that renders hilariously.
My daughter surprised me one evening reading Dory Fantasmagory and she was quite puzzled why I was reading the story to me and not to her. The truth is I felt so amused reading the book that I simply forgot I should have asked her too. So, I have read it twice in one day.
Fantasmagory = a dream-like state where real life and imagination are blurred together
Dory has just turned six and she is the little sister in a family with three kids. Her nickname is Rascal and her biggest preoccupation is to make her sister Violet and her brother Luke play with her. But she is too much of a baby for them and they say she asks unusual questions:
What does please mean?
Why do we have armpits?
How do they make plastic?
What is the opposite of a sandwich?
The only thing Dory has is her wild imagination. She plays all day long with Mary, her imaginary friend and fights the monsters in the house, the Toilet Monster, the Ketchup Monster, The Vacuum Cleaner Monster. So when her siblings, in their attempt to scare her, warn Dory that Mrs. Gobble Gracker, a robber that steals girls, will come to get her, her imagination starts spinning leading to hilarious situations. A little funny looking man is Dory’s godmother and will help her solve the problems.
There are moments when the little girl seems disoriented but she won’t stop in her pursuit for getting the attention of her siblings.
I lie in the hammock all by myself and think maybe Luke and Violet are right. Maybe I am a baby. I think of all the babyish things I do: I still smell my bunny and suck my fingers to fall asleep. I still put my clothes on inside out. I still can’t whistle. I still overflow everything I pour. I still want to wear my nightgown all day.
Sometimes she may seem a little problematic, crying and having tantrums but her inner thoughts explain all the reasons for her behavior and Dory is perceived as a strong little girl who beautifully creates a world of her own. She is brave and at the end of the book she will be a hero for her siblings.
What I really liked from the perspective of a grown-up is the author’s realistic perception of children’s mind, actions and reactions. She really is in Dory’s mind and perfectly captures the universal desire of all small children to be accepted by the bigger siblings and integrated in their games. The illustrations and the speech balloons are important parts of the story and contribute to its humor.
You can read about Abby Hanlon and see some of her illustrations here:
You can find the book here: http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=wordstoworlds