This book was dropped into my hands by my gf the other day, while we were dawdling at the library. She has found some quirky, fun things for me in the past, the most outrageous of which is probably ‘Creepy Susie and 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children’ (a book I was absolutely delighted with, quite honestly! ), and she still comes up with unique things that I might like.
She had already browsed this Coupland book in the past and hadn’t really enjoyed it. Still, she imagined that, given the subject matter and my sometimes offbeat sense of humour, I would be fond of it. Admittedly, at first glance, this looked to be exactly my sort of thing: it has twisted stories for “kids”, and each tale is combined with deliriously eerie art from Graham Roumieu (whose own books I’ve recently read).
Alas, I found this collection of short stories to be mixed at best: for every delightfully nutty piece there was a less inspired, forced one. And I found that there was perhaps too much similarity between some of the main characters – enough so that it supported my impression that this book was written on fumes.
Anyway, here is the list of shorts, in order of appearance, along with a few comments:
2. Sandra, the Truly Dreadful Babysitter 5.0
The drawings were better than the story, which I found really dull. Sandra was appropriately self-serving, but the stunts she pulled weren’t really amusing or clever.
3. Hans, the Weird Exchange Student 7.5
I quite liked this one because of Hans’ strange behaviour (which, quite frankly, makes no sense when you deconstruct it) and because of the environmental messages behind it all.
4. Brandon, the Action Figure with Issues 5.5
Sort of amusing, but it’s not really an interesting character. And his debacle with Cooper was hardly funny.
5. Cindy, the Terrible Role Model 6.5
I liked this one because of all the social commentary in it. Tackling body issues and all the pressures that women and girls face was a nice touch, as was mocking our addiction to celebrity. But the rest? Meh…
6. Kevin, the Hobo Minivan with Extremely Low Morals 5.5
Mildly enjoyable, but a drunk hobo is hardly rip-roaring material – even if he is a stalking minivan.
7. Mr. Fraser, the Undead Substitute Teacher 8.0
My favourite, just because of how absurd the set-up is and because it takes a different approach from the others, taking us into the heads of various students – for lack of any real personality from our zombie prof.
In the end, I thought that it was a terrifically ghoulish idea that likely needed more gestation time. It is brought to life by Roumieu’s art, which is absolutely perfect for the book and elevates the final product, but it remains a half-hearted attempt at creating a work that homes in on the darkness in our hearts and pokes fun at some of the more unfortunate facets of North American society.
It should be commended for the effort, even if it isn’t a flat-out success. I’d only recommend this to fans of The Addams Family, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Happy Tree Friends, that sort of thing.