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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Eva Furnari
Age Range: 9-11
Fuzz McFlops is a famous rabbit-poet and writer, but ever since he was teased at school by his classmates about his lopsided ears he’s led a lonely and reclusive life, which is reflected in his writing with books and poems such as The Withered Carrot, Red Eyes, An Unlucky Rabbit’s Foot, Unhappy Easter and The Veggie Patch Behind Bars.
Fuzz is used to receiving lots of fan mail, none of which he reads until one day, he receives a large eye-catching violet letter tied up with a silk purple ribbon. This fan, explains that she doesn’t like some of his poems and stories because they often have pessimistic endings. She even has the audacity to suggest he has no imagination and to rewrite some of his work.
Initially Fuzz is outraged. Who does this Charlotte Passe-Partout think she is? After receiving a second letter Fuzz eventually decides to reply. He sends Charlotte a rude missive, but when, in response, he is invited to tea, it causes an acute attack of earspasmitis – a twitching of his right (short) ear that happens whenever he gets upset. As their varied and intriguing correspondence continues Fuzz begins to wonder whether Charlotte may have a point. Will Fuzz find a way to overcome his shyness and accept the invitation to tea?
Fuzz McFlops by Brazilian author Eva Furnari is an award-winning bestseller from one of Brazil’s leading children’s writers and has sold over 200,000 copies in Brazil. It is a truly delectable book full of wry exchanges throughout the correspondence. Alison Entrekin has done a superb job with the translation capturing all the wit of the text – the instruction manual for the Bunny Perfection Earlongator, a large uncomfortable contraption that Fuzz has to wear to stretch out his shorter ear, designed for young rabbits who suffer from asymmetrical auricular dysmorphology; or the patient information for the Twitchannul medication that Fuzz takes for out-of-control ears.
It is the unique fusion of illustration and storytelling that makes Fuzz McFlops so special. Funari’s colourful, comic watercolour illustrations, from full page to vignettes, are varied and full of expression: Fuzz’s illustration of Charlotte as he first imagines her – bloated with a bulbous nose; the trendy post-rabbit dressed in purple trousers and top delivering Fuzz’s fan mail or Charlotte in the midst of her beauty treatment with green cream on her shins and grey paste on her eyebrows and ears when Fuzz catches her unawares, are hilarious.
The latter part of the book combines a mixture of amusing text and illustrations with serious explanations of the many different forms of writing mentioned in the story, including the meaning of P.S., autobiography, proverb, fable, fairy tale, poem, song, letter, postcard, telegram, recipe and list.
Underlying the humour is a serious message about difference and Funari expresses this in a gentle way. For Fuzz, being different has always been a problem made worse by having to wear the Earlongator that sadly didn’t work. It is also about finding friendship and love and of learning to be comfortable with who you are.
A brilliantly funny, heart-warming tale that both children (and adults) will love.