Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Review: The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon

I thought I'd review one of the picture books shortlisted for the Nestle Children's Book Awards today--Mini Grey's The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon.

The spoon narrates this version of the dish/spoon tale and it's a wild ride from the beginning. This dish, you see, has quite the taste for adventure and the spoon is so besotted, s/he can't help but follow along: "I don't know where we were going and I didn't care. I knew the dish would take us there."

And, "there" they go. First to NYC, starring in a vaudeville show, where they are a huge hit. But, like many a great adventurer, the dish "got a taste for the high life" and before you know it the money "was all gone." They go into debt to "a gang of sharp and shady characters," and end up on the run.

When the dish is injured, s/he tells the spoon to "run while you can." The spoon, who is clearly the passive character in this relationship, tells us, sadly: "But the dish was broken and so was I. I let them lock me up and turned away from the moon."

The spoon is locked away for twenty five years (!) and, upon release, finds work in a china shop. Lo and behold the dish is there and when someone "put a record on the old gramophone player," the tune inspires them to hit the road once again and entertain.

It's an old story, but Mini Grey shakes it up with dynamic, entertaining and funny illustrations. The "shady characters" who loan the dish and the spoon money? Some scary-looking knives, who cast long shadows. When the dish and spoon run away from said characters, they wear hilarious burglar masks. While I worry about spoon's passivity (Spoon! Listen up: the Dish is bad for you. You can do better.), The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon is read-aloud fun--perfect for the four- to nine-year-old crowd.

ETA: I read this book aloud last night to a five year old and discovered the dish is a she. No definite gender for the spoon, however.