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Pickle Me This

September 8, 2016

The Nosyhood, by Tim Lahan

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Tim Lahan’s first picture book, The Nosyhood, is full of surprises, the first being its size, which is very tall, the book making excellent use of its extraordinary height and being spectacularly conscious of itself as an object (which is very satisfyingly gripped in one’s hands) and the space it has to tell its story.

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It’s the story of an unassuming young couple who buy a house, the book’s centre functioning as their home’s threshold. “I’m so glad we found this great new house,” says the Her of the couple, with no idea what their neighbourhood has in store for them.

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At first it seems pretty positive—a friendly neighbour (in a green suit) stops by to so hello, and they invite him inside. They’re even cool with the woman who shows with with a bowl full of fruit, and the baker with a three-tiered cake (well, wouldn’t you be?) but when Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up (“Ready to pump a little iron?”) things start to get a little weird. And the party inside is beginning to get a little crowded.

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There’s the guy with the canoe, and then the clown with the balloons, and pretty soon this very tall book doesn’t seem tall enough. For the most part, Lahan lets his images tell the story, although they’re nicely punctuated with some dialogue by the party-goers.

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The brass band might seems like it’s all gone too far, but there’s still time for the guy on a horse (who’s not just looking for a party, but wants a carrot) and it was here where I realized how wonderfully The Nosyhood reminds me of the works of Remy Charlip, books like Mother Mother I Feel Sick and Arm and Arm and I was definitely thinking about Little Old Big Beard and Big Young Little Beard: A Short and Tall Tale. 

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It gets absurd. There are donuts by bylaw and the basketball player who turns up saying, “You guys are way more fun than the last seven couples who lived here…” There is the astronaut and the robot and a pirate and three dogs, and you get the sense the something’s gotta give. And when it does, it’s a nose that come around and stopped to sniff the flowers, and when that big nose starts sneezing, everyone would be advised to take cover. img_20160908_170257“I feel like this might not be the best neighbourhood for us after all,” the He from the couple is saying to Her at the end as they clean up from the disaster. A perfect, hilarious, understated end to this very funny and clever book.

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