Well, the title seems innocuous enough. It has some nice things said by (semi) influential/important people on the back. One of whom can’t wait to read it with his grandchildren, apparently!
According to the blurb, this is a children’s book about thankfulness. After careful reading, I think there are some other issues going on underneath the surface.
For instance, I think there are problems in Eric’s family right from the first page. I mean what sort of parent feeds their children cookies for breakfast? The kind who leaves their children at the meal table with the TV on, that’s who! Shocking! Poor Eric’s little sister (or maybe stepsister—the different hair colour seems suspicious) doesn’t appear overly enamoured with her measly cookie. I know she’s on milk because the bottle is on the table. But, if you look closely, it has hardly been touched. In my house nobody is allowed a cookie (certainly not at breakfast) if they have not finished their bottle! Secondly, who allows their child to eat with his mouth open? I’ll tell you who. Parents with blatant disregard for teaching their children basic social graces. I say parents, but where is the dad in this story? Who knows. Maybe if he was around at the breakfast table poor Eric wouldn’t be so dysfunctional. I will leave that for the CBMW lads to pick over.
From the first page of this book, I had my doubts.
The book begins with the adventure of Eric, who doesn’t quite know who to thank for his wonderful toast (he could start by not eating with his mouth open). Anyway, to give the little fella his due, it is a nice instinct. So he rushes to his mum, but she is doing the dishes. At first glance this looks like a normal family scene. But look closely, and you will observe all manner of toys strewn willy-nilly across the living room floor. Quite clearly a health and safety hazard! I’m not sure that this is a good example for delicate and impressionable minds who might be looking at this material. Mum would have been better served getting Eric to tidy his toys away before he went off on his little adventure. Just a thought.
It’s from this point that things take a turn for the worse in the book. His mum tells him to go and thank the baker. He steps outside his front door, and with one foot on the curb and one on the road, he turns back to wave at his mum! Green Cross Code people! Look both ways for goodness sake. Thankfully, there were no cars coming and he arrives safely at the baker’s. The baker sends him off to what looks like a refurbished pope-mobile in my opinion. The owner being an extremely lazy man by the name of Dan. We will see that Dan is not only lazy (sleeping at work) but irresponsible as he allows Eric to chat to him while STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Unbelievable. Dan might be a good flour deliverer, but he knows nothing of the Highway Code. Eric, you are surrounded by crazy fools son. The tension is unbearable at this point because I wonder if the poor kid is going to make it to the end of the book alive.
Anyway, the story continues with him running to find the miller, and as he finds her, we notice straight away that there is no safety equipment or protective headgear. Miller schmiller! I don’t know how that woman stays in business with these sort of lax-practices. Anyhoo, she points in him in the direction of Farmer Pete who grew the wheat. We find the kindly old farmer sat on his tractor, and he does what all the others should have done sooner, and that is point him to God as the creator of all good things, even toast! Get in Farmer Pete, you cheeky little evangelist! He even gets out his old Bible and together they read God’s Word and give thanks to the one to whom it is due.
The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger as Eric walks off into the distance having completed his mission. We are never told what happens to him or where he is going. Maybe off to find where his dad was? Who knows.
I have to admit that the farmer bit was quite emotional, but the sensation was slightly dulled by the nagging doubt that this boy was surely going to be late for school. Grateful is good, but there’s no excuse for tardiness. Maybe Dai can sort that out in his next adventure?
One last thought: I’m not sure about the mother by the way. She could have saved Eric a lot of time by telling him herself that God was the person to thank. Then perhaps her son wouldn’t have found himself in some dangerous situations and he wouldn’t have been late for school. She was probably too busy watching daytime TV while feeding her children dangerous levels of starch-filled, sugar-laden snacks.
What a little cracker of a book this is. Kids will love it. Even big (sort of) kids like this will love it. Get on it. Outstanding. Loved it. 5 stars.