Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Three by the sea by Mini Grey
The stranger, who we can see is a fox, works on the weakness and vanity of each of the friends. He criticizes dog's garden to mouse : "I don't mean to be rude about Dog but his idea of gardening is a bit odd ... where are are flowers? Where are the vegetables? Where are the herbs?" He gives mouse some booklets from his suitcase.
After lunch the stranger confides in Dog telling him to come into the house and see how hard Cat is working. Cat is found lying in bed fast asleep. Finally at suppertime the stranger talks with Cat questioning the menu prepared by Mouse each day. Fox wonders that Cat is not tired of cheese fondue. Cat is given some tins of mackerel and sardines.
All these snide comments culminate in a horrid scene of discontentment and fighting. Mini Grey uses different paper strips for each voice on this page and you can just hear our friends all yelling at one another. Mouse is the most sensitive of the three and so he quietly packs his bag and leaves. Alas Mouse is swept out to sea but working as a team Cat and Dog are able to rescue him and this heroic act reunites the friends in a special bond. They find the stranger has left. Each of the friends was given a gift by the Four Winds Trading Company and so somehow this awful experience has a positive outcome. Instead of working alone, each of the friends now work together and their lives and diet are richer for this experience.
Three by the sea is not a straight forward picture book. I am sure readers will want to ponder the motivation of the Fox and also his awful sly techniques as he tries to manipulate the three friends. What is he up to? Who are the winners?
Here is a review that identifies the themes and strengths of this interesting book. Read an interview with this author/illustrator here. Look for other books by Mini Grey in our library. This book reminded me of Fox by Margaret Wild which is for much older children and of a rather odd Janosch title I read recently called Hello, Little pig which is a continuation of The trip to Panama.