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Fungus the Bogeyman

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Because fact is that I have to use my strongest reading glasses throughout and still be constantly squinting, as especially the font size of the printed, of Biggs' presented text is so cramped and so minuscule in size to make easy and comfortable perusal nigh impossible (I have actually had to reread some sections more than a few times because my eyes accidentally kept missing and skipping entire chunks, this also being a further caveat for parents reading Fungus the Bogeyman with or to their children, and perhaps also a potential issue for recently independent readers attempting to read Fungus the Bogeyman by themselves, as they often read better and easier with larger and bolder print).

My teacher used to hate it when the class was reading (non-school) books and he'd see this well-worn tome on my desk. This book was turned into a two-handed radio play with Peter Sallis in the male lead role, and subsequently an animated film, featuring John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft. As a children’s book today, I would not recommend it: there are many references to British culture in the 70s that simply would not be understood; the vocabulary used is quite advanced (at times fantastical) and thus I would not even be sure at what age group this book should be aimed; and as the book is so dated, it feels sexist and racist by today’s standards.It is a hugely entertaining read from start to finish, chronicling the life of Fungus and his grotesque environment. The story, such as it is, follows a day in the life of the eponymous Fungus, a hard-working Bogeyman who is going through an existential midlife crisis, questioning both his purpose and the system in which he works. By using the Web site, you confirm that you have read, understood, and agreed to be bound by the Terms and Conditions. Questioning the meaning of life becomes more insightful and urgent, in a way, when the life in question is the antithesis of all we supposedly hold dear in our human world; the removal allows for a more dispassionate consideration of the existential void at the core of the universe than a realistic treatment would allow, but the humour mitigates the likelihood of despair.

Life in Bogeydom is full of snot, smells, slime, scum and other unspeakable things, and Bogeymen live under the ground revelling in allthe nastiness imaginable. It’s great and horrible fun for adults and kids alike – with brilliant illustrations throughout as you’d expect. For a picture book (and even for a short comic book style graphic novel obviously and primarily meant for children), Raymond Briggs' Fungus the Bogeyman is actually in many ways rather sophisticated and involved humour and narrative-wise. Briggs not only gives the reader a clear indication of what the Bogeyman wears, eats and wash’s himself with but also the bogeyman’s hobbies, habitat and modes of transport. Hamish Hamilton London 1982 First Edition VG (illus hardcover sl rubbed and worn, sl faded, internally book is clean and bright and all pop ups appear to work!Tapping windows, tugging blankets, creaking stairs, making babies cry and hanging around graveyards are all in a nights work for the bogeyman.

This Gala Films production with screenplay by author Mark Haddon, featuring live-action humans and animated Bogeys, was nominated for five awards. Combine that rudimentary appeal with a very adult level of punning and an endearing melancholy and you have Fungus. Kids will delight in the grossness, the often groanworthy but always delightful puns, and the wonderfully detailed art. He is a bogeyman who goes to the surface each night to cause havoc (literally: things that go bump on the night). Fungus lives an ordinary life, he gets up, gets prepared for work, makes the commute, does his job and wonders what is it all about?It didn't take long for the concept to sink in, and when I paged through the rest of the book, it seemed to be just more "Bogeymen love all things wet, smelly, and dirty" ad nauseum. It does so in a manner that is always fast paced and the reader is never easy as the turning of each page brings another revolting revelation. He travels through Bogeydom and into our world every night to go about his job of rattling doorknobs, waking babies, and causing boils to erupt on unsuspecting sleepers.

As his day progresses, he undergoes a mild existential crisis, pondering what his seemingly pointless job of scaring surface people is really for. Bogeymen like: silence, tasting books, losing or drawing games, wetness, rotten smells and slowness.The level of detailed world building of Bogeydom makes this such a fun and worthy inclusion to the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow-up. Bogeydom is not a place I would particularly like to visit, but I am glad I am aware of it, and that while reading about its goings-on my dinner, and sense of humour, remained intact. It's the worldwind tour surrounding the various habits of Bogeyman that really makes this comic strip standout, there's so much information and enjoyable word play in various boxed out sections and various footnotes. This is a delightful, eccentric book, the sort of book that genuinely IS all-ages, a claim often made but rarely merited. There will probably be words that a young child will not know such as ‘pullulate’ (regarding Fungus’s underwear), and ‘horripilation’ (lady in the tub) but that is half the joy of this book - discovering new words for noxious stuffs and effects.

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