Fergal is a happy lad, not bothered at all by the strange effect he has on everyone around him. When even the rats and cockroaches are driven out of town by his ‘aroma’, Fergal sets out to find somewhere he belongs, and discovers that even a boy like him can find a place to call home.
Filthy Fergal is an interesting book. The story itself is not bad, but it is, as my five year old said, ‘quite weird’. It was that uniqueness that overrode any sort of lesson or message that the book was trying to convey. While not every children’s book necessarily needs to have a moral, Filthy Fergal failed to bring any real spark or connection that made us want to pick it up again.
Sigi Cohen does a great job of telling the story in easy rhyme, with every sentence flowing easily. He includes some wonderful words that pre-schoolers and younger school children will really enjoy – words like squished, whiff, shriek, and proclaimed. They are all words not necessarily heard by that age-level every day, but when reading together with an older reader make for some wonderful conversations and learning experiences.
Illustrator Sona Babajanyan does a great job too bringing Fergal and Pearl’s world to life. The book actually looks filthy; cockroaches crawl across pages, spiderwebs dangle from corners. The colours are all muted greys, greens and browns, adding to the atmosphere. The final few pages could have really played on a contrast for more visual impact though.
Filthy Fergal is just the third book Yellow Brick Books has released. The publisher said it aimed to produce ‘quirky, fun, engaging books that will become future classics’. Filthy Fergal definitely has the quirky factor in spades, but sadly lacked the engaging part for our home.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Yellow Brick Books, RRP $24.99