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The Toucan Brothers

Posted on Jun 27, 2013

toucanbrothersTor Freeman
(Macmillan Children’s Books)

The Toucan Brothers, Sammy and Paul,  have been dealing with the town’s plumbing issues for many years. For them there is “no job too big, no pipe too small”  Until there is a new plumber on the scene, charismatic Flash Rover, who is faster and cheaper. At first the brothers aren’t worried, trusting their customers to remain faithful. But soon the phone stops ringing and work becomes sparse. The Toucan brothers feel betrayed by the town they have served so well … but unbeknown to them, their finest hour is just around the corner.

With a rhyming text that is clever, bouncy and infectiously funny, The Toucan Brothers is an absolute joy, and hoot, to read aloud.   The illustrations are bright and zany, with Toe Freeman’s signature anthropomorphic use of animals.   Her use of space within the page is great, building pace and momentum at times and creating and emphasising the comical situations conveyed in the artwork and text.

The illustrations will undoubtedly remind many  of Richard Scarry’s wonderful books not only because of its town scenes, but also for its detailing and its impeccable use of visual jokes.  The Toucan Brothers is nonetheless truly original and current, with a distinctive style that is Tor Freeman’s own.  And how inspired to use plumbing as the theme of a picture book and how clever to be able to convey so many themes through it: a sense of community, of not being fooled by “flashy” things and people, that being kind and honest always prevails in the end.  It is such an imaginative little gem.

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The Toucan Brothers is packed full of wonderful details, which will appeal to readers on different levels.   The use of visual jokes means that the book can easily be enjoyed by non-readers on their own and the detailed illustrations of everyday scenes (and tools!) will delight young children. But the quirky details such as homages to several artists within the artwork and the irony that Flash Rover is a plumber dressed as a “cowboy” won’t be lost on adult readers either. There is an unmistakable hint of Ghostbusters legacy in this hilarious book … or maybe it is just me. But the theme song kept creeping into my mind each time I read it.
Being funny to both child and adult audiences is not easy to achieve  and succeeding in doing so proves just how great The Toucan Brothers is.

The Toucan Brothers is a hoot and a real gem , I urge you to give it a try!

 

Tomorrow, Tor Freeman will talk about her inspiration behind The Toucan Brothers.

 

Source: review copy from publisher

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