Friday 24 February 2012

The Tunnel

Anthony Browne's books dance with the surreal and often sometimes quite disturbing worlds where the ordinary and the everyday meet the fantastical and deeply mysterious. In "The Tunnel", Browne weaves a fairly simple tale of sibling rivalry (anyone with a younger sister (like me) would probably instantly identify with the boy in the story!) but then dips the whole thing in the deep dark inky stygian well of the slightly disturbing.

The Tunnel uses Browne's powerful illustration style to shunt a child's imagination into overdrive. Quite unlike the gentle humour and situations in Browne's "Willy" books, The Tunnel is actually fairly harrowing, and definitely NOT a book to read just before tucking your little ones into bed.

But you're a parent. You'll know that there's something about books like this that makes them intoxicatingly attractive to children, in fact I expected this book to be shoved firmly to the bottom of our library pile this week, yet it's been the book Charlotte has most requested.

The sister in the story is the focal point of the message Browne is trying to get across here, and though it's easy to get completely lost in his beautiful Magritte-like paintings, ignoring the fairly lightweight text, that message is delivered more effectively than if it were dressed up in more flimsy and carefree surroundings.

If Stephen King wrote kids books, this is probably the sort of tale he'd be itching to tell.

Charlotte's best bit: Can't tell you because it would spoil the book but "Stone"

Daddy's favourite bit: There's one illustration panel of a group of trees. You could quite happily spend a whole week looking at that panel and picking out the hidden objects in it. Anyone familiar with Rene Magritte's work will fall completely in love with the book.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5, Book of the Week