August 14, 2005

Book Review Contest: Cannonball Simp

cannonball_simp.jpg

Title: Cannonball Simp
Author/Illustrator: John Burningham
Reviewer: Tiffany Feaster

This is my all-time favorite childrenís book. I almost hesitated to submit this book because I have always felt like it was a treasured family secret, and I wanted to keep it that way. The only copy Iíd ever seen is my own mangled hardcover from 1966 (surely hijacked from the local library once upon a time!). I figured it was out of print. But to my great surprise (chagrin?), I found it on Amazon.com in all of its glory. The secret is out, so here goesÖ

Itís a story of redemption about a little dog named Simp who is left at the side of the road by her owner because she is ugly. Simp scavenges through trash dumps and garbage bins for food, encounters some generous rats and a nasty cat, and narrowly escapes the clutches of a dogcatcher.

One day, she comes upon a circus and befriends a down-trodden clown. Simp makes herself part of his circus act by disguising herself as a cannonball (because she is dark and round). Simp blasts out of the cannon as the new star of the show and finally finds love and acceptance with her new circus family.

The illustrations are magnificently dark and brooding: the antithesis of a typical childrenís book. Blackened skies, roughly sketched figures...itís somewhat ominous at times, yet delivers those warm fuzzies like a champ. And the wee Simp is just so darn cute with that stumpy tail and gnarly little feet.

Lovingly written and curiously illustrated, Cannonball Simp is a perfect kid readÖcompelling enough for children to ask for it again and again without being overly cutesy (so parents will actually WANT to read itÖagain and again).

All thatís missing? Perhaps Simp taking a stroll in a Bugaboo FrogÖbut, we can save that for the sequel.

(I worked the Bugaboo into the reviewÖany bonus points for that??) [very nice, but remember, this is not a competition, no wagering. ed.]
Check out Cannonball Simp at Amazon

3 Comments

I LOVE THIS BOOK,ALL THESE YEARS LATER AFTER READING IT MANY TIMES TO MY SON,IT STILL HOLDS A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART...THAT WAS 25 YEARS AGO THAT WE READ IT TOGETHER AND I SAID TO HIM THE OTHER DAY..DO YOU REMEMBER THE BOOK ABOUT SIMP? AND HE YES,I STILL DO!

I love it too!!! I bought it from an out of print book dealer 10 years ago. I love the part where the dogs in the dogcatcher truck say things to little Simp like: you're not very pretty are you? And the last scene is great with the little party at the table.

Used to have this book read to me by my mother 40 years ago and am reading the same copy to my son now. He likes it. I hadn't seen the book as we had it in storage for so many years and checking it out all these years later, I was pretty taken by the illustrations and style of them. Just a really great story.

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