A baby in a bubble and a terrible treble…

Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy is another favourite story in our house. The tongue twisting story makes it terrifically fun to read aloud, and the lovely illustrations by Polly Dunbar make for fun discussions (has anyone else noticed the little doggie peeing on the lamppost?!).

The story is all about a little girl called Mabel, who is amusing herself, and her baby brother, by blowing bubbles, when a bubble bobbles over to her baby brother, catches him up, and takes him floating away on an adventure. Mabel, in a panic, cries to her mother, and as the two chase the bubble along the street they gather up town folk.

My only issue is with Greville Gribble. I think it’s awfully unfair to call someone “lazy” just because they’re in bed with a book in the middle of the day (I think “lucky” is the word we’re looking for here), but my bigger issue is just how to pronounce Greville.

But she bellowed, “Gracious, Greville!” and she groveled on the gravel
when the baby in the bubble bibble-bobbled overhead.

[…]

After them came Greville Gribble in his nightshirt with his novel
(all about a haunted hovel) held on high above his head,

I’m going to go with Gree-ville, but I do have the urge to say Griv-ell. I’m sure someone will correct me later in life.

The story is a wonderful journey through different dyads, from the grumpy Mr & Mrs Copple, who were so surprised by the baby in the bubble that they were shocked out of bring grumpy and crippled, to being joyous and jogging, or the scrabble playing Tybal and his mum Sybil.

Then there’s Able. The villain of our story, who sings in the church choir, but it would seem he has quite the reputation for being a little brat.

Margaret Mahy books are wonderful in that they don’t dumb down the story, but yet still manage to be accessible to young readers by having a fun rhyming rhythm. You may not expect to see “divested” in a childrens picture book, but it works, and even if the word is unknown, the context helps new learners to understand the meaning.

I have the boardbook, so have no problems with the baby playing with this book, but although she enjoys the cuddle of being read to as well as the story itself, I think she’ll enjoy it even more when she’s a little older and understands what’s happening in both the pictures and the story.

The illustrations seem to perfectly capture characters personalities, as well as emotions; the surprise on babies face as the bubble pops (and the glee from Abel), the panic from the crowd, the love from mother. The illustrations may be simplistic, but they still convey so much.

The characters all seem to be predominantly middle-class caucasian, but red-heads, at least, will be happy to be able to identify with the main character.

Although this book has a wonderfully delightful happy ending, the action beforehand is quite heart-stopping. It is perhaps a sign that I get too involved when reading aloud, but when the baby is falling through the air, I do cuddle the little girl on my lap just a little tighter.

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