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Monday, August 08, 2011

Funny Frank

Funny Frank
by Dick King-Smith
illustrations by John Eastwood

Ronald Gordon King-Smith, OBE, aka Dick King-Smith, is probably a household name for the lovers of Babe: The Gallant Pig and The Water Horse, two beautiful books that inspired the corresponding much-loved movies.

A lovely homage post by my friend and "Senior Cohort" at ST helped me earmark his books for Ana's reading list. We are working our way through the set of Sophie books.

But, the first Dick King-Smith book Ana and I read together is Funny Farm. It's about a cockerel chick who wants to be a duck. He desperately wants to swim but not having webbed feet and waterproof feathers he is unable to.

Luckily for him, there's Jemima Tabb the farmer's daughter, who, with the help of her super seamstress mother and veterinarian Uncle Ted, manages to help him get webbed feet and waterproof body. How, you ask? Well, the book makes it all clear :)

There's slight bit of humor in the happenings, there's quite a bit of drama what with Gertie (Frank's mom), Mildred (Gertie's busybody friend) and the fox at the end, there's a spark of love when Funny Frank meets Speckled Gorgeous, and plenty of heart in this plain and uncomplicated narration that seamlessly weaves human and human-like animal interactions with interesting perspectives.

Parts of it may seem uncomfortable for today's conscientious parent, but, kids growing up on a farm am sure will be in tune with birth, life, death, mating and other ways of the animals. I loved the portrayal of Gertie as a prim and proper ladylike hen who finds it inappropriate when her friend Mildred barges in while she is laying her morning egg.

All's well that ends well. Frank manages to save his mom's life and get back in her good books after she internally disowns him for wanting to be a duck and not the proud cockerel he is supposed to be. Frank gives up his dream of being a duck and settles down with Gorgeous.

The book ends with a certain charm as Frank longingly looks at quacking ducks in the pond with Gorgeous by his side tossing her head and declaring, "Poor things! Sploshing about in that cold stuff. Why, water should be only for drinking!"

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