Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda
Reviewed: March 21, 2005
By: Margaret Atwood / illustrated by Dusan Petricic
Publisher: Key Porter Books
32 pages, $21.95
One suspects that Margaret Atwood dashes off children’s
books like these to lighten her spirits after wallowing in despair
while producing books like Oryx and Crake.
Like her last excursions into kiddies’ territory, this tale
of sad beginnings and happy endings is nattily narrated with a
superfluity of anguished alliteration which will nist your twung
ninto kots before you are done with it.
Bashful Bob, you see, was abandoned in a basket by his bubble
headed blonde mother who was blinded by her burnished brilliance so
that Bob was blotted from her brain. Bob was raised by some kind dogs
who found him in the street. He grew up a little strange, not nearly
as well adjusted as Mowgli or Tarzan.
Doleful Dorinda’s mum and dad had disappeared in a dreadful
disaster when she was still in diapers, and she had been dumped on
distant relatives. They apparently felt that Dorinda sounded a bit
like Cinderella and treated her pretty much like that.
Dorinda ran away, bumped into Bob, worked on his communication
skills, and they were happy for a time. One day they engaged in an
act of unusual public service and, as a result became sort of famous.
It then turned out that Dolinda’s parents weren’t dead
and they found her. It also turned out that Bob’s mom regained
her IQ when she became a brunette and recognized him in the paper.
Everybody got to live happily ever after or, in this book
“delirious with delicious delight.”
See what I meant about that tongue?
This was actually a bit more fun than her last alliterative
adventure, having a bit of a Lemony Snicket flavour to it. The story
appears to cherry pick ideas from the boy’s adventure novels,
fairy tales and classics that Atwood admits to having been addicted
to as a child. Petricic’s art seems to fit the story - though
I’m not certain about the pink bison. You decide for yourself.