In 1996 this book won the International Bologna Ragazzi Award and a Smarties Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.
QUENTIN BLAKE is Britain's leading illustrator, and was chosen as the first Children's Laureate.
Mimes need not speak to communicate their stories; accordingly, Blake (Simpkin) chooses a toy clown to gesture his way through this wordless picture book. Despite some slapstick humor, the story belongs to the tragicomic tradition. On page one, an elderly lady tosses Clown and five other rag dolls in the trash like so many limp vegetables. Clown drops over the side of the can and onto a city sidewalk, dusts off his white cloth pants and runs to get help. Each page shows multiple vignettes of Clown in frantic action. Several children befriend him-he's only slightly shorter than they are-but adults are less congenial. One glamorous woman flings Clown out a window draped with elegant purple curtains, and, after Clown escapes a guard dog, its punkish owner pitches him high into the sky, where his beanbag-loose silhouette soars above a bleak city backdrop. Clown often wears a look of concern, but, after the heroic conclusion, the gray clouds light up with sunset splotches of bright pink. The overall message is one of loyalty: those who find their way out of the garbage have a responsibility to those they leave behind. With a few brushstrokes and scribbles of ink, Blake conveys moods, contrasts economic situations-and praises those who appreciate secondhand items. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
K-Gr 4‘Unceremoniously tossed in a trash bin with other toys, Clown escapes and attempts to enlist help in rescuing his discarded friends. He gains the sympathy of two little girls and the attention of one dog, but interfering adults thwart his efforts at every turn. Finally landing in the drab apartment in which a girl is baby-sitting her little brother, Clown not only gains his objective but also helps make a happy home for all (humans included). Blake's whimsical watercolor-and-ink illustrations are particularly well suited to this wordless tale presented in cartoon style. His spare but expressive lines effectively capture the hero's pluck, the cruel disdain of adults, and the dreariness of the urban apartment. Large drawings in frames combined with smaller, unframed sketches vary the tempo and pace and further dramatize moments of bold action. While accessible to young viewers, a certain level of visual sophistication is required to truly appreciate the nuances of the plot. For example, the relationship between daughter and mother remains unclear until the end, but this does not significantly detract from the drama. Blake succeeds admirably in presenting a multilayered and thought-provoking tale that will capture readers' imaginations.‘Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ
A delightful story of the frantic antics of a toy clown who finds himself thrown head-first into a dustbin with an assortment of other discarded toys * Observer *