Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Book: Dumbo, The Flying Elephant

"There's a twist I didn't see coming."

You know that sentence? It's usually a sign of a good book: the book takes the reader by surprise and only tightens the suspense and leaves the reader thrilled. It works in most cases.

But not in all.

We have an old children's book which certainly has a twist I didn't see coming - and neither does anyone else in this household.

It's a Disney-themed Little Golden Book called Dumbo, The Flying Elephant from 1959 (translated in Finnish as Rakettinorsu Dumbo; our edition is from 1980, but there must've been an earlier edition). I don't know the writer or the illustrator.

The story is mostly your usual Disney-fare, pretty stupid but also quite acceptable by low standards. Mickey Mouse gives flying shows with Dumbo, but they are losing competition to new rocket planes. (Do you think a flying elephant ever would lose its novelty value?) After some kicking around, Mickey Mouse comes up with an idea: he puts some rockets in a box, ties the box up in Dumbo's back and bang! they fly faster than any rocket plane. (And he just sits on the back of Dumbo like nothing happens when they fly over 1,000 kilometers an hour. Yeah, right. But then again, Mickey Mouse is one tough customer.)

Okay so far. But then there's the final climax. It's told, just like that, in the middle of the narration, that the circus teddy bear Bongo has shipwrecked on a remote island. I mean, what the fuck? Bongo is never mentioned in the story before the climax, he's not in any of the pictures, and if you don't know just who this guy is, you have no idea why he's suddenly brought into the story. And why the hell is he on that island? Where was he going? With what was he travelling? Why's there no sign of the wrecked ship or plane - and what happened to the other passengers?

Well, I must admit that Kauto has never asked us who the guy is.

You pretty much guess what happens next. The planes can't land on the tiny island, so Mickey and Dumbo rescue Bongo. And come back as heroes.

And that's that.

(I don't exactly know whether this was a Little Golden Book or not. I can't find any trace of it being published as a Little Golden Book, but in Finland it was published in the similar series in which many books had originally been Little Golden Books. Anyone recognize the cover?)

My contribution to Patti Abbott's Friday's Forgotten Books series.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

HA! This narrative sure brightened up my morning. Thanks.