Monday, April 5, 2010

The Sorely Trying Day by Russell and Lillian Hoban

I noticed that this book was being reprinted by the New York Review Books Children Collection, so I borrowed a copy of the older edition to see what it was like.

A father comes home after a day at the office and finds chaos. "Is this the sort of welcome I get after a sorely trying day?" he asks. The blame is traced from one naughty child to another and finally back to the cat and then the mouse, who volunteers to take the blame and be eaten....but the cat says...."Who do you think you put on such airs of nobility and unselfish heroism?" and refuses to eat him. This starts a chain reaction of apology moving backwards through the animals and children until the mouse arrives home and finds....chaos. "Is this the sort of welcome I get after a sorely trying day?" he laments.

The Victorian flavor of the story and language, along with tongue-in-cheek humor - the children are punished by not being allowed to press flowers - reminds me a little of Else Holmelund Minarik's No Fighting! No Biting! another nouveau old-fashioned book. This might appeal to Lemony Snicket fans, but I see great difficulty in convincing them to read it. I found it amusing and Hoban's illustrations fun, but I think few others would see the appeal.

Verdict: I liked it but found it too dated for practical library use

ISBN: 978-1590173435; Published March 2010 by NYR Children's Collection (new edition); Borrowed from the library

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