Double Trouble In Walla Walla

Double Trouble In Walla Walla was first published in 1997, so it’s taken me almost 19 years to get around to it. I must admit that my selection of it was entirely opportune, borne out of the distraction that comes when your three-and-a-half-year-old is urinating over you in a public library, and you’re not consciously aware of this, just of an awful stench and a repulsive warmth spreading from your midriff as she clings to you. But enough of my Christmas Eve, let’s talk Double Trouble.

The book is a resounding hit with both parents (it’s short, brightly coloured and has fun words in it) and daughter (it’s short, brightly coloured and has fun words in it). So it resides well in the top right quadrant of book acceptability.

Lulu, the schoolgirl protagonist, starts the story with a overly verbose excuse for missing her homework. She gets short shrift from her teacher, Mrs Bell, who marches her to the principal’s office lickety-split, only to find the three of them all have their vocabulary infected with long rhyming words that come hugger-mugger into the conversation.

The words escalate as the principal involves the school nurse and there’s a four page spread of gibberish as they all spout more and more words in exceedingly frenetic ways, before the plot reaches a satisfying conclusion and the reader can recover his or her breath.

The illustrations are great – full bleed across each double page spread, with vibrant characters and exciting use of fonts to make the words spring out at the reader. While I might worry that the story makes fun of glossolalia, there’s no victimisation of Lulu or the others for all these long words.

We read it at home, at a Mexican restaurant, and back home again, and after that La Serpiente demanded specific pages again. Quite the find, given the circumstances in which it was presented to me.

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