How to be an uncle book
Uncle by J.P. MartinBob and Cindy Russell and their three children, year-old Tia, 8-year-old Miles, and 6-year-old Maizy, have recently moved from Indianapolis to the Chicago suburbs due to Bob's promotion. Late one night, they receive a phone call from a relative in Indianapolis informing them that Cindy's father has had a heart attack. They make plans to leave immediately to be with him. After hearing the news, Tia, bitter about having been forced to move, accuses Cindy of abandoning her father. Bob suggests asking his brother, Buck, to come and watch the children, to which Cindy objects.
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He's immensely rich, and he's a BA. He dresses well, generally in a purple dressing-gown, and often rides about on a traction engine, which he prefers to a car. JP Martin 's plutocratic pachyderm first appeared, surrounded by a cast of thousands including badgers, dwarves, monkeys, Andalusians, owls, little lions and large blobs of jelly , in , illustrated to scratchy perfection by Quentin Blake. He was rapturously received. Martin's unique style, balancing tense, terse statement "They neared the dark hulk of Badfort", "Old Whitebeard did not wait" with the gloriously surreal "They took a circular staircase to the seventh storey, where they found a man in an oyster stall who directed them to a long broad passage hung with red cloth" prompted comparisons with Babar , Alice in Wonderland and Edward Lear.
Unimaginably rich, invariably swathed in a magnificent purple dressing-gown, Uncle oversees a vast ramshackle castle full of friendly kooks while struggling to fend off the sneak attacks of the incorrigible and ridiculous Badfort Crowd. But for every delightful friend of Uncle, there is a foe who is no less deliriously wicked. Very few books exist at such a pitch of consistent imaginative glee, and Uncle is one elephant who should never be forgotten again. This is fantasy in the grand style; in the tradition of Lear and Graham. Younger readers will take it at face value and enjoy it thoroughly. Older readers will be able to see into the depths of these adventures. There is the blurring of the line between the human and the animal kingdom, made familiar by Beatrix Potter and A.
Let joy be unconfined! Almost seven years ago, I bewailed the loss of Uncle , the wealthy, purple-clad elephant with the BA whose surreal adventures, superbly illustrated by Quentin Blake, delighted many lucky child readers of the 60s and 70s.
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Uncle is an elephant. He's immensely rich, and he's a BA. He dresses well, generally in a purple dressing-gown, and he lives in a house called Homeward, which is hard to describe, but try to think of about a hundred skyscrapers all joined together and surrounded by a moat. Uncle was the principal character in six books by J P Martin, a Methodist minister who wrote the stories to amuse his children. The first, Uncle, was published by Jonathan Cape in , two years before Martin's death, and they carried on publishing them until the early Seventies. Uncle and Uncle Cleans Up were briefly reprinted in paperback in the early Eighties; but then they vanished.
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As a child, I adored the Uncle books, which chronicle the adventures of a fabulously wealthy and endearingly pompous elephant who rules over the vast and ramshackle kingdom of Homeward while wearing a purple dressing gown. It seems that in creating the world of Uncle, J. Martin drew on some of the surreal episodes in his own life. As a child, I thrilled to such descriptions of excess; as an adult, I found them somewhat repetitive. Then I reached Chapter 11, in which Uncle and his friends visit Owl Springs, hoping to see the reclusive owl. This chapter contains the most delightful passage in the book:. Uncle said nothing for a long time.