The Pied Piper of Hamelin: Russell Brand's Trickster Tales - Russell Brand, Chris Riddell

British comedian, actor and activist Russell Brand takes the classic Pied Piper tale and gives it a fresh spin full of subtle (and some not so subtle) commentary on today's world. I'm a little confused as to why this keeps being marketed as a children's book, as I would think it'd be pretty graphic or just generally disturbing for any child under 4th-5th grade age {just for example, there is a part of the story where children of Hamelin are trying to reanimate roadkill to turn into a "woodland zombie army", and one illustration shows a rat with its head chopped off, a wire coming out of its body in the place of a head, the neck gushing blood}. Not to mention much of the wink-wink satire aspect of it is more than likely going to go over the heads of most young children, simply because most will not be that far in their "school of hard knocks" education. However, they are very likely to really enjoy the rampant butt jokes and toilet humor. 

 

That being said, I really enjoyed this book! I loved the tongue-in-cheek tone, the poking fun style of social commentary that flowed seamlessly with the underlying vein of "no seriously though, think about this..". Brand finds a humorous way to bring attention to topics such as unchecked consumerism, vanity, bullying, pollution of the planet, sexism (even having a character called Sexist Dave, which I was immensely amused by, particularly the way Chris Riddell draws him!), how strange religious customs can sound when you try to explain them to someone not of your faith. He also addresses how stupid people look when they dismiss someone simply for how they look or just acting differently. Then there's Homeless Jeff, who is sort of kept in the background because the posh people of Hamelin prefer to keep him out of sight, illustrating the way many large cities tend to want to cover up the issue of homelessness. Brand even addresses same-sex marriage by including a same sex rat couple into the story. 

 

I definitely recommend this for adults and older children, especially to see Riddell's brilliantly detailed artwork (I'm a fan of Brand, but I do think it was Riddell's work that really sold this book for me). Parents, you may want to read this & make your own judgement call before sharing with your really young children.