The Naughty, Naughty Baddies

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Mark Sperring (text),  David Tazzyman (illus.),  The Naughty, Naughty Baddies,  Bloomsbury,  March 2017,  32pp.,  $14.99 (pbk),  ISBN: 9781408849736

The title The Naughty, Naughty Baddies reveals instantly that the bad characters of this quirky picture  book are not to be taken seriously.  The first page introduces the reader to the four baddies named One, Two, Three and Four.  The cartoon style illustrations depict them with toothy wide mouthed smirks and crossed eyebrow glares.  They go

“creeping around looking for something naughty to do..” 

The naughty plan they decide on is to steal the spots off the Queen’s doggy Woof-Woof and distribute them around the town.  The plan is exposed when they let out a “fiendish” snigger in the throne room.  Trying to escape, the cartoon drawings show their facial expressions turned to grimaces of alarm as they tumble down the stairs.  In the end the baddies prevail without causing any real suffering.

Tongue in cheek humour and an irreverent, playful tone characterise the text. I love the rhythmic language patterns – “they looked this way and that, that way and this” as well as the unusual, overstated descriptors and alliteration – “… what a brilliantly bonkers, daringly dastardly plan it was”“diabolically dreadful”.

In fact, the text abounds with unusual metaphors and descriptors as well as literary devices such as onomatopoeia, double meanings, oxymoron – “…nice, villainous creep”.  I can envisage an engaging classroom activity studying this fun text to identify its variety of literary devices.

I love the quirky, colourful cartoon drawings with exaggerated facial expressions and the Lauren Child reminiscent style of incorporating cuttings and collage.  Gimmicky lettering adds to the book’s sense of playfulness and quirkiness.

This is a lively, engaging, unusual picture book to be enjoyed by the whole family, but the humour and subtle inferences would probably be better understood and appreciated by children older than 7 or 8 years.

Reviewed by Barbara Swartz

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