The Happy Valley - Eric Berne

I bought this book online after reading Remarkable Reads, in which one author describes The Happy Valley as the "loneliest" book he's ever read, because he's rarely come across anyone else who has read it. I made sure to get the version illustrated by Sylvie Selig, since he mentions her illustrations.

Eric Berne mostly wrote psychiatry books, including Games People Play, but this was a departure: a children's book that is so weird it's not surprising most people haven't heard of it. Robyn read the beginning and decided she didn't care for it, but I thought it was delightfully strange, in a Yellow Submarine sort of way. (Robyn didn't care for that, either.)

It's hard to describe exactly what the story is about, but there's a python named Shardlu who finds himself in Happy Valley, which is populated by talking animals, a man named Abe who doesn't understand English but speaks it, a polite Princess who nevertheless terrifies Dulcy the rabbit, an explorer who never leaves home, and parachuting robbers. The logic used by the people in Happy Valley is topsy-turvy and may have you scratching your head.

My verdict: it's definitely not a book for everyone, but I enjoyed it and it's fun to have a little-known book. It'll be a little while before Ridley's old enough to appreciate the silliness of it, but I imagine that it's one she'll enjoy eventually.

Fed to jonathan's brain | April 29, 2006 | Comments (0)


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