'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 23 October 2009

Review: The Wise Old Boar

Title: The Wise Old Boar

Author: Margaret Merry

Illustrator: Margaret Merry

Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing

Format: Paperback

Language: English

ISBN: 978 1 60693 728 0

For ages: 6+

Type: Picture Book

About: The Wise Old Boar is a peculiar animal. He perches spectacles on his nose, wears a sombrero-inspired hat and carries a fat tome of wisdom, into which he dips for advice and counsel for his myriad of animal friends.

All the animals know Bruno is an incredibly enlightened being and that his book of wisdom holds all the answers to their problems. They also know he wears his hat to keep his brains nice and cool (all the better to do thinking with) but the truth is that Bruno is really a stupid old boar - a conceited and self-important bore, whose book of wisdom is really a recipe book and whose wise counsel is really a crock pot awaiting more intellectual ingredients.

When Boris the Badger, Sylvia the Squirrel, Faldo the Fox and their friends consult Bruno for advice, the old boar consults his tome and - in a lording voice - gives each animal outrageous solutions to their problems.

Keen to make use of such wise ponderings, the animals dash out to complete their tasks, only to have appalling and embarrassing (and funny) outcomes. Nonetheless, the animals blame themselves from not following Bruno's advice to the letter and the stupid old boar continues his reign of mishapping counsel.

Will Bruno and his self-inflated ways ever be popped like the proverbial balloon? When a raging storm appears on the horizon, Bruno's fate is cast - with a fun and gently moralistic outcome.

Author/illustrator Merry has created a charming tale in the style of the great classic fables - peppered with beautiful watercolour illustrations that are clearly inspired by her life in the Spanish countryside. A native of England, the author has created a warm and visually pleasing book with an engaging narrative, despite its considerable word length.

This word length initially worried me a little, however, the storyline works very well and doesn't lose pace - something older children will enjoy and younger ones can also enjoy - perhaps in instalments. The lovely illustrations will also delight readers of all ages.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that The Wise Old Boar was not too heavy handed on the typical 'moralistic ending' which tends to patronise children. The wrap up is instead smooth and subtle and employs a gorgeously configured outcome that pleases both the reader and animal characters of this appealing book.

Read more about Merry's book at the publisher's website.
Available from Amazon for US$21.50.

Merry's other children's picture book - The Lonely Digger - is also available from Amazon. She has just released her third book - The Adventure of Princess the Pony, which is available direct from the publisher.

Read a KBR author interview here.