Aimee McNaughton (text) Dominique Ford (illustrations), I Can’t Imagine How That Happened, Scholastic (NZ), 2014, $NZ15.99(pbk), 32pp., ISBN 978-1-77543-204-3
Winner of the Joy Cowley Award (2013), this picture book is a wonderful way to explore the trickster tale in all its variations. We all like to play tricks on each other (especially when the big and the powerful get their comeuppance) as anyone watching American Funniest Video TV show knows.
When Meg and her grandpa head off for a camping adventure, the old blighter loves to play tricks. From putting a can of tuna on her fishing line whilst underwater to secreting a large rubbery spider into her sleeping bag, Mag is subject to grandpa’s witty reply, “I can’t imagine how that happened!” But young Meg is a feminist-in-the-making and soon devises her own tricks. From pebbles in his shoes to tomato sauce in his water bottle, Meg too delights in grandpa’s discomfort. “I can’t imagine how that happened!” Nature too has its own tricksters. Watch out for…the pukeko! I wonder what it does?
A delightful tale of the power of kinship and inter-generational relationships, children could be encouraged to design their tricks too! I wonder if our little pukeko’s could cause carnage?! This text was recommended by one of my undergraduate classes as their shortlisted book for the next NZ book awards!
reviewed by John McKenzie