Sunday, July 17, 2016

Children and the Tundra, by Dr. Doris Haggis-on-Whey

Children and the Tundra is a weird little book.  And I mean that in the  most affectionate way.  I loved it.  Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-on-Whey have combined their practical wisdom and discoveries about two important topics, children and the tundra, into one very important book.

I was reminded of some Monty Python books I used to have.  Or maybe I still have them somewhere.  Children and the Tundra is full of silliness.  And, refreshingly, it doesn't try to redeem itself with some purpose or deeper meaning.  It's just silly.  And the silly-named authors, Dr. and Mr. Haggis-on-Whey, are made up by the actual, slightly-less-silly named brothers Dave and Toph Eggers.  ("Eggers" must be a made-up name, too, right?)

The bits about children are more interesting than the bits about tundra.  I especially liked this bit, even though it is really about neither children nor tundra:
How to tell the mountains from the sky.  Go up to both of them.  Mountains can be touched but when you're standing on them they disappear.  Skies can't ever be touched, no matter how close you get.  And sometimes they disappear when you're in bed or when the window is closed.  The differences between mountains and sky can be hard to remember but most of it is about touching.
For those who are seeking advice on a way to contain those children they might have in the home:
Why did they let the child into their home in the first place?  If they can keep raccoons and other woodland creatures at bay, why not children? . . . But if you do find yourself with a child at home, and you want to eat and read the paper in the morning undisturbed, then you need some kind of container.
On the overall purpose of the book:
What can be done about children and their attributes? Including: their annoying laughs, their chirpy way of talking, their frequent outbursts of inexplicable emotion, their loathsome clothes, their need to break things, their need for shelter and constant care for upwards of 18 years. . . . These are some of the questions that have plagued humankind for the many hundreds of years that we have been burdened with the phenomenon of children.
In the end, perhaps the authors reveal the relationship between the two topics at hand:
Now you know the truth about the world's coldest regions: the heart of children.  You have also learned how and what lives in the tundra and why no one ever bothers to speak of it.  Now you can find a sturdy box, empty all this information inside it, and give it to Steve.
Have fun with this.  Expect to laugh out loud.  Don't bother trying to explain what you're laughing at to the person sitting next to you.  They just have to read it themselves.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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