Friday, 10 June 2016

Bicycling to the Moon

Bicycling to the Moon, Timo Parvela.
Bicycling to the Moon
Timo Parvela, illustrated by Virpi Talvitic
Gecko, paperback, NZ$20
ISBN 978 1 776570 32 4
Reviewd by Trevor Agnew
Friendship is a treasure but sometimes friends can be infuriating. This witty chapter book takes a wry look at the friendly clash between two different personalities. Purdy is a cat; self-centred, ungrateful, and comfort-loving. Barker is a dog; loyal, devoted and uncomplaining.

Finnish author Timo Parvela has written twenty amusing tales chronicling the domestic disasters caused by the mismatch between these two friends. The title story sets the mood. Purdy wants a bicycle to ride to the moon. Barker gives him a bike, and is amused when Purdy plans to ride it on the reflection of a moonbeam, across a lake and up to the moon. Barker likes the idea of Purdy getting wet. Then, just at the crucial moment, Barker realises that the lake is very deep and Purdy can’t swim.

Barker offers to ride with Purdy.


“Because we’re friends.”

It’s a touching moment. Off they ride, down the moonbeam and deep into the lake. Of course Loyal Barker saves Purdy, who remains cheerfully unconcerned,

“Good thing you wanted to come along, or I’m sure I would have drowned,”

The engagingly irritating Purdy carries on, in this fun-loving thoughtless way, while the long-suffering Barker picks up the pieces. When Barker digs the garden, Purdy stays in bed. While Barker sets up their campsite, Purdy eats all their food. “Some people keep things in order and others create chaos,” says Barker, philosophically. Sometimes things do boil over – as in the Great tomato War – but Barker’s kindness often saves the day.. When Purdy dreams of flying, Barker builds him wings. When Purdy sings (terribly), only Barker remains in the audience. Friends are like that.

Virpi Talvitic’s coloured illustrations add another subtle dimension to the stories. Her final picture shows the pair relaxing under a tree. Purdy’s upraised tail, combined with a flower and butterfly, turns the setting sun into a yin-yang symbol. These oddly-matched friends complement each other, producing a sense of amused contentment – just as this book does.

Trevor Agnew 

This review appeared in Your Weekend magazine (Fairfax), 11 Jun 2016.

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