Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Bomb That Followed Me Home

The Bomb That Followed Me Home
by Cevin Soling

(CreateSpace / 0-976-77712-6 / 978-0-976-77712-0 / Rumpleville Chronicles Series / Illustrated by Steve Kille / Monk Media / November 2007 / 40 pages / $14.95 hardback)

Reviewed by Dianne Salerni for PODBRAM

A little boy is walking home from school, primarily focused on avoiding the property of Mrs. Greenspan who yells in gibberish at all trespassers, when he realizes he is being followed home by the cutest little bomb he’s ever seen. Of course, he wants to keep it, but his mother is worried it belongs to someone else (perhaps a crazed anarchist who misses it desperately) and thinks it will be too much work. But the boy and the bomb are already attached – whatever shall they do?

This fractured fairy tale is one in a series of politically charged picture books written by Cevin Soling and illustrated in brilliant, psychedelic colors by Steve Kille. While the story at first seems simple, if a bit bizarre, it’s the kind of thing that haunts you afterwards. What did that story really mean? Once I started asking myself questions, it was hard to stop. Why were the parents annoyed by the presence of the bomb, but not really alarmed? Why were they more worried about their own inconvenience than the potentially dire consequences? What significance was there in the fact that the unpleasant neighbor spoke gibberish, instead of English?

Although this is a picture book, it could easily have a significant place as a discussion starter in a high school or college political science class, especially used in conjunction with the other books in the Soling series: The Disciples of Trotsky, Kierkegaard’s Dilemma, and more. I even tried it out on my advanced fifth grade reading group, and with a little guidance, they had a rousing discussion about its theme. They were able to grasp that the story addressed an important idea beneath the surface and reflected at length on the use of bombs to quell your troublesome neighbors, whether they spoke English or not. As one girl put it: “I think the author is saying that people are too used to bombs. They don’t think about them the way they should. They should be afraid, but mostly they’re annoyed because they don’t want to think about it.” Children are certainly not na├»ve, and they recognize irony when they see it, even if they don’t know the name for it!

Colorful, engaging, and thought-provoking enough to annoy you, The Bomb That Followed Me Home is a good choice for literature discussion among the younger set or political debate among teens.

See Also: The High Spirits Review
Kevin Soling's website

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