Monday, 17 December 2012

The Phlunk by Lou Rhodes and Tori Elliott (Strata Books)

When 'The Phlunk' dropped through our letterbox, courtesy of the lovely Tori Elliott and Strata Books, we were a bit befuddled. Here - on the surface at least - is a book that's a real tough win for an adult, but seems to have that certain something that appeals to a child.

I'll be brutally honest here, I couldn't get on with The Phlunk's text flow and the bizarre half Ay-Ay, half moggy creature was a bit...disturbing.

BUT we spent a weekend reading and re-reading The Phlunk and I did a bit of research into Lou Rhodes. I knew I'd heard the name before somewhere, it didn't occur to me that Lou Rhodes was part of trip-hop collective Lamb.

So I dug out my favourite Lamb track ('Angelica') and played this softly in the background while we re-read 'The Phlunk' - And what do you know? It works beautifully. Normally I'd rather chop my own ears off than distract a child from a book with music tinkling away in the background but in this instance it works so very well. Who'd have Phlunk it!

'The Phlunk' is the story of an intergalactic creature, strangely feline (and like I said earlier, with a touch of the 'Ay-Ay' about it too!) who comes from a bizarre spoon-shaped planet.

Hovering in space, with its vast ears The Phlunk can hear everyone talking on earth. People's hopes and fears, a young child's murmurings in the depths of dreams, daddy getting annoyed because he can't put those flippin' socks on your feet. The Phlunk hears all, and because it hears all, you need never feel alone.

The artwork is almost like Australian tribal art, a mix of painterly and collage stuff and the lyrical text tracks across the page like a slithering snake. This book probably breaks just about every rule in children's picture books but are there really any? I often wonder whether rules exist purely to be broken anyway.

If you're a spotify-er, give this book a go with Lamb's 'Angelica' as a background accompaniment, and see if it wins you over too!

Watch out for the second 'Phlunk' book in September 2013 - "The Phlunk's Worldwide Symphony"

Charlotte's best bit: The Phlunk's home planet with the spoons sticking out of it! This led her to wonder if other planets have vast pieces of cutlery sticking out of them (so we dug out our encyclopaedia for a quick look at other planets in the solar system, good lead-in activity that!)

Daddy's favourite bit: Trippy and a neat message at the end, but do yourself a favour and listen to some really good spacey music while reading this, it works beautifully!

(Kindly supplied to us for review by Strata Books)