Mister Magnolia – Quentin Blake

POINTS: 2 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points

There is no dialogue in this book, and also no named characters at all apart from the title one, so it cannot pass the Bechdel. It does fall pretty much into gender stereotypes: his “two lovely sisters” both wear long flowy dresses and have long flowy hair. One of the girl children wears trousers, and that’s about the best I can say for it in that regard.

Similarly, every single person in Mister Magnolia’s world is white as can be – not a person of colour to be seen. So it scores very low in all regards there.

It’s still kind of a neat little book though, and I say this not just because I have a fondness for Quentin Blake that goes back to my own childhood. It’s pretty standard kiddie nonsense – the ‘story’ doesn’t make a lot of sense, but the rhyming text is entertaining and it is kind of funny. The one boot thing is amusing and Mister Magnolia’s sheer joy at having a second boot is only made more funny by the fact that they don’t match. This simle fact sent my five year old into paroxysms of laughter. “His shoes don’t match Mommy!” So funny, apparently.

The illustrations are typical of Blake’s comedic style. His “magnificent brute” of a dinosaur is pretty spectacular. It’s fun to read, but it sure isn’t going to break any status quos. I guess when I see Blake’s illustrations, I kind of expect some of Dahl’s subversion (just because in my head the two are intrinsically linked) but this book really is just a joyous romp.

And social justice aside, a joyous romp is always a good thing. 🙂

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