I wonder if this book began with its title? It IS an excellent title. Who hasn't stayed up late into the night arguing about which animal would win in a weasel, puffin, unicorn, baboon, pig, lobster showdown after all?
The contents of 'The Weasel Puffin Unicorn Baboon Pig Lobster race' by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon will answer that dilemma; 5 out of the 6 animals proving to be dreadful cheats as it turns out. Although given the terrain they have to negotiate includes swamps of goo and rockfaces with bubbles of drool it's a mute question whether it's really about cheating or simple survival. It's a pretty hardcore challenge when you are forced to rely on a chocolate submarine or custard trampoline to get you where you need to go.
This book is hip and bonkers in equal measure. I read it with an eyebrow raised and an occasional wince at some rather dodgy rhyming. Eddie, who of course IS hip and bonkers in equal measure loved it immediately. The illustrations channel 70's psychedelia. David Shrigley-esque line drawings in a palette perfectly picked from the wallpapers of my childhood. In fact the whole (beautifully produced) book is reminiscent of some of the stranger TV animations of that era; 'Ludwig' say or 'Chorlton and the Wheelies'.
A frustration with the book is that all the animals in the race are male. Not an issue I'd thought about much until the excellent Carmen at Rhino Reads pointed out the inbalance that exists generally in picture book animals. An opportunity missed to have a dastardly cheating FEMALE lobster on a raspberry canoe for once.
That aside the blend of edgy nonsense has charm and will appeal to happening young thing cool cat aesthetes- and just possibly, to their parents too.
'The Weasel Puffin Unicorn Baboon Pig Lobster Race' by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon, pub. Digital Leaf Publishing, isbn 9781909428027
with thanks to the publishers for providing a review copy. Our opinions are our own.