Oh man. This is a really weird book. Even by Tony Millionaire standards, this is a really weird book. I bought it for my daughter after getting her most of the other Sock Monkey books. But I haven't read it to her yet on account of being too freaked out by the metaphysical weirdness to take another look at it. I'm sure she will deal with it just fine. It's me that I'm worried about.
Suffice to say that the whole Sock Monkey world is not what we thought it was. Nothing is safe. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is canon. The message of this book appears to be that all you really have for certain is what is right in front of you and the experience at this present moment. Memories could be false or mistaken. The future is totally unknown and potentially disasterous. But look, there's the moon.
Most kids can handle this book, I think. It's the parents who will walk away from the bedside with jaw hanging slack and their eyes wide open.
I'm giving this 5 stars despite being afraid to pick up the book again. Any children's book that prompts this kind of serious thought using pictures of a sock monkey riding around in a cart pulled by a pair of yorkies deserves all the stars that I can possibly give.
If you know Tony Millionaire's adult comic, Maakies, you might think that he would write an ironic children's book. This is not the case. Tony Millionaire has a soft side and it's beautiful. This book is absolutely OK for kids. Some of the deeper text might go over the head of a child and even the adult reading to the child, but the pictures and story won't lose their interest.
This book will be remembered as a peer amongst the likes the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. The drawings are astounding. The story is beautiful.
wow! tony millionaire sure knows how to pull the most wonderful surprises out of his hat. not that is surprising to find a cleverly written and brillantly illustrated book by him, but nonetheless, this book is something else. sad and poetic and utterly wistful, children of all ages, and particularly children who have suddenly discovered that they have mysteriously gotten older and things have changed, will find this book quite appealing (and maybe even disturbing, in a good way of course...) i would give this book 5 stars for the last page alone...what can i say...BUY IT!
My first experience with Tony Millionaire was a very short Batman story he created for DC's Bizarro comics back in 2003. The story was so strange and unique that I made mention of it in my review as one of the standouts. How can I put this so it doesn't sound like an insult? Millionaire writes as if he's an alien observing humanity from a distance and not really part of it. In other words it has a very otherworldly quality to it. His weirdness is legitimate weirdness rather than calculated manufactures weirdness and again that is not intended as an insult because I love Millionaires comics.
One of the issues people have with Tony Millionaire is that he writes some stories geared for children and some stories geared for adults but often uses the same characters. This can cause a bit of confusion among readers and I've read several reviews by people complaining that they expected a children's Sock Monkey story but instead got a story that they wouldn't read to a child. I read Uncle Gabby to my wife and she found it too dark for a child. I didn't feel this way however the concepts in the books might go over a younger readers head and the vocabulary in the book is above the level of a grade school student. The reading level is listed as 9-12 but I really think that's inaccurate. I can imagine the frustration a publisher might feel when faced with a book with such an unclear target audience. On the other hand it implies to me that this book is Tony Millionaire's true vision. I don't think he writes stories for target audiences, he just writes what he feels and I find that highly admirable.
Uncle Gabby can be read straight through in less than 15 minutes. In keeping with Millionaires style it has a very surreal dreamlike quality. Despite its brevity the story is packed with some rather deep philosophical ideas on linguistics and the unreliability of memories and it has an emotional impact that goes beyond a book generally aimed at preteens. It reminded me of the movie `Where the Wild Things Are' that got a lot of flack from parents for being too dark. I would argue that the Wild Things film and Uncle Gabby aren't so much dark as they are emotionally powerful and many American parents are trained to shield children from deeply emotional stories. What often ends up happening is that children are being spoon fed bland unmemorable entertainment that doesn't stir a child's emotions or encourage them to think deeply.
In the end I can't say who the best audience is but I enjoyed it greatly. It's a bit different from what I'm used to from Tony Millionaire. The images are in color and the drawings are bolder and less rough than what I've seen from him in the past. If you've never read anything by Tony Millionaire I highly recommend picking one up and this seems as good a book as any to try.
I wanted to get my son some sock monkey books that weren't too juvenile for his age (11 yrs). He is into comics but only if they are old. This item was perfect. The art and story is a little deeper & darker than a typical childrens book but very magical and the illustrations are amazing! It has a comic book feel, easy to read, out of all the Tony Millionaire books we have this is the fave!