Monday, February 25, 2019

Review - Murmel, Murmel, Murmel

Murmel, Murmel, Murmel
by Robert Munsch
illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Date: 1982
Publisher: Annick Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Robin discovers a baby in her backyard sandbox (it can only say “Murmel, murmel, murmel ...”) and sets out on a series of adventures while trying to find it a home.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Hmm... Wariness and cynicism have kind of ruined this one for me. It was one of my favourite Munsch books when I was a kid. I didn't even have the English version; I had the French version, in which the baby said, "Gla, gla, gla." (It loses something in translation, I think.) In any case, I loved the story and thought it was pretty funny. Especially the ending. But now, reading it as an adult with an awareness of abduction and child trafficking and pornography, I just can't feel the same enthusiasm for it that I once did.

Five-year-old Robin finds a baby in a hole in her sandbox. The baby can only say, "Murmel, murmel, murmel," so it can't really help Robin in figuring out where it's supposed to be. So she goes around and asks various people--from a cat lady with seventeen cats to a workaholic with seventeen jobs--if they need a baby. Some of these encounters are a little more uncomfortable than others... especially the last two, which are a surly man who wants to know if he can sell the baby and the truck driver who eventually takes it. The truck driver basically buys the baby from Robin with a truck (which is especially ridiculous, but I always liked that part of the story when I was a kid) and I couldn't help but feel a little uneasy about the whole thing. What did he "need" the baby for? What's he really hauling around in his fleet of seventeen sixteen trucks? I'm not sure I want to know.

Some of Munsch's books have held up better than others. While Murmel, Murmel, Murmel is cute if you look at it through an innocent lens, it starts to lose some of its charm from a more cautious 21st-century point of view.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.67 out of 5

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