When you finish reading his latest book, Ribbon Rescue
, you know that Robert Munsch is a great storyteller. Ribbon Rescue
feels like a story being told to a great big group of high-spirited youngsters who can hardly keep still, so excited are they to see just what will happen next. And, in fact, it is a story that actually came out of a storytelling event. It's also full to bursting with the kind of madcap humour that is classic Munsch.
Kids are heroes in Robert Munsch's books and Ribbon Rescue is no exception. Wearing the brand-new ribbon dress, a traditional Mohawk costume, that her grandmother has just finished making, it's up to Jillian to save the day as a befuddled wedding party, falling apart at the seams, rushes by her on the way to the church. As groom, bride, family friends, and the best man turn to Jillian for assistance, she uses the brightly coloured ribbons on her dress to give a helping hand. Sounds great, doesn't it?
The problem with Ribbon Rescue is that it doesn't read particularly well on the page. It's clumsy and lacks that spontaniety that it would surely have had in performance. When the best man comes on the scene, he begins shouting that he's lost the wedding ring; but there's no been indication that he dropped the ring right then and there. He's been running down the road-that ring could be anywhere! Jillian provides the bride and groom with her mother's bike and her brother's skateboard but hands over "Lindsay's wagon and Hayley's scooter" without explaining to the reader who Lindsay and Hayley are.
The illustrations in Ribbon Rescue don't help either: they're too rough and sketchy for this lively story and seem as though they've been executed too hastily. This is a first collaboration between Eugenie Fernandes and Munsch and it's a disappointing beginning. Fernandes is a first-rate illustrator whose boisterous, effervescent pictures have filled more than eighty pictures books, including Rise and Shine, Foo, Lavender Moon, Waves in the Bathtub, and Tom and Francine. From a writer and storyteller like Munsch and an illustrator like Fernandes, Ribbon Rescue should have a great book and it's not.