Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Review - Oy, Feh, So?

Oy, Feh, So?
by Cary Fagan
illustrated by Gary Clement
Date: 2013
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: hardcover
Source: library

Every Sunday Aunt Essy, Aunt Chanah, and Uncle Sam drive up in the old Lincoln for the afternoon. They plop themselves down in the living room, and no matter what anyone says their response is always the same — “Oy,” “Feh,” “So?” One afternoon the three children try to provoke a different reaction. They fake a robbery, produce a terrifying child-eating dragon, and pretend to be kidnapped by space invaders, but their aunts and uncle remain unimpressed. In exasperation the children take to mocking them, and soon they are all laughing so hard they’re practically crying. Cary Fagan’s characteristically dry humor and Gary Clement’s witty illustrations perfectly depict a family with loveable quirks in this story that is sure to become a favorite.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I don't know if it's a cultural thing, but my god... everybody in this book is so rude! The aunts and uncle come by every week, plop themselves in the middle of the living room, and act like dismissive jerks. Then the kids, tired of this behaviour, try to change the script... but that doesn't work. The aunts and uncle just keep acting the same way. So what do the kids do? They turn to mockery.

Yes, the parents call the kids out on it, but not very hard. Soon, they're all too busy laughing. Maybe that's how things go in this family, but there are a lot of families where mockery wouldn't be tolerated (at least, I hope there are a lot of families where it wouldn't be), and when picture books model bad behaviour like this, I question whether they're really appropriate for children. (Everything works out okay in the end here, apparently because a few stories told by the old folks erase their dismissive attitudes. At least until next week.)

The pictures are okay, but I wasn't wowed. I think I was too annoyed by the storyline that was so steeped in disrespect that it almost comes across as a manual for families on how not to behave. Should we really be teaching kids to mock their elders? (The aunts and uncle are a lost cause. The children should've been taught to simply ignore them.)

I thought this might've been a funny story about some quirky family members. But the way these quirks are dealt with just doesn't sit right with me.

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

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2.17 out of 5

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