Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Popcultural Picturebooks: Spotlight on Elys Dolan

Image by Elys Dolan  www.elysdolan.com

One of the best things about becoming a parent was the wonder of sharing all things magical, geeky and pop cultural with our two mini-geeks. I'm not sure who was more enraptured about their first viewing of Star Wars: A new hope, but I suspect it may have been their Dad and I. We have since gone on to share the geek loving wherever we can, with Dr Who, Star Wars and Minecraft themed Christmas trees, themed birthday parties (we have a Harry Potter one coming up in the few months) and visits to Armageddon all on the agenda.

We are equally as big on reading to our mini-geeks, and I'm fairly proud of the fact that I can use the threat of one less bedtime story to get them to behave at the end of the day, they NEVER want to lose a story. So when we find our two great loves intersecting, life is extra good!

One of the VERY BEST authors who successfully does this, is the fantastic Elys Dolan. Her picture books are a marvel, with big glossy pages full of super fun art, hilarious dialogue and sneaky humour. There are always lots of hidden in jokes to be found. Her books are rather like Pixar movies, kids love them, but there is a little something there for the grown ups to get a sneaky laugh from too. There are references to Star Wars, Star Trek, and Ghostbusters, and her latest offering even has a bit of a throw back to those fun action movies of the 90s. What more could a geek parent and mini-geeks ask for really? Here are some of her book highlights which you can borrow from our collection.

Weasels was the first Elys Dolan book we had the good fortune to come across. I initially borrowed it because I noticed that one of the subject headings on the library catalogue was Megalomania: Children's picture books, and that is just not something you see every day!
In this book, the author asks what is it weasels do all day? and would you believe it is PLOT WORLD DOMINATION. They have created a machine to enable them to take over the world, but just as countdown commences, disaster strikes. The boys loved seeing the plotting weasels and working out just what happened to the machine, Mummy loved all the coffee and health and safety in jokes.

When I found Nuts in Space on the shelf at the library I was so excited. The weasels lady had done another book AND it referenced both Star Trek and Star Wars, it really can't get much better than that. (And no, I am not one of those purists that thinks there can only be one great Star thingy, I love them equally, so there ;) ) In Nuts in space, a rather furry Trekkie type crew have found the celebrated Lost Nuts of Legend and are on a mission to return to their home planet. Unfortunately, a hungry crew member has eaten the map, so they have to make a few stops on the way to ask for directions. The highlight for the mini-geeks and I had to be the Death Banana, which was a super fun spin on the Death Star.

The mystery of the haunted farm introduced the boys to the joys of Ghostbusters, or rather the Three Pigs Ghost-hunters, who are on the job at Farmer Greg's place with their Phantom Finder 5000, the latest in Scare-o-Meter equipment. Something is amiss down on the farm, with zombie ducks at the pond, and an array of other supernatural creatures taking over the barn (Frankenhorse and The Mighty Donkula anyone?) We didn't expect that twist in the ending, which made the book even more fun. There is nothing like a good twist!

My Mr 6 was very proud that our libraries ordered Steven seagull: action hero after he put in a suggested purchase for it. Steven Seagull is a retired cop (I hear there are rumours he was kicked from the force for being too much of a renegade) who is asked to come back and help save the beach. Some perpetrator has been stealing the sand and leaving massive holes everywhere. A gull's gotta do what a gull's gotta do, and Steven takes on the case and checks out the usual suspects. Does he manage to save the day? I'll leave that for you to find out, I'm off now to look up old Steven Seagal movies ;)

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