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This is one of those books that brings me back to my childhood. It is a series of comic strips. There is nothing educational about these, no great moral lessons, no purpose at all other than to have a laugh. It is just pure mindless relaxation and fun - but I think we all need that once in awhile - and I'm happy to see my children turn to books for this as well as television.
Tom and Jerry cartoons are often criticised as being overly violent. This book is also full of violence. There is the classic rake in the face, plenty of punching and smashing, Tom landing in a cactus patch, and the the poor feline even gets swallowed by a snake. Experts have determined that children under 8 are unable to distinguish between these acts and reality - so we are desensitising our children to violence, and teaching them to laugh at the suffering of other creatures. In fact all of the woes of the world may be laid down to the birth of television as study after study does show an increase in violence from that time ( of course there are a lot of other factors as well).
I say - Rubbish! This may be politically incorrect to say but the experts must have some pretty thick children. My sons are ages 4 and 7 and both are perfectly aware that cartoon characters are not real. My children were upset by films like the Battle of Britain because they asked if me if that really happened - and of course it did. They know perfectly well that this is fiction - but if you do feel that children's books should not be violent - you really do not want this book.
Tom and Jerry Friends Forever contains 20 short stories or comic strips ranging from a single page to about 16 pages in length. The artwork is perfect. It is not 3 dimensional, but Tom and Jerry never were 3-d characters. They look just like they would on television. The text is presented in typical comic book fashion - in speech bubbles. It is a bit on the small side, and written in all caps. I have read this can be confusing for younger readers, but my son, age 7 has had no problems at all with it and read it over and over again. This book has a total of 178 pages, which makes it a rather long book for bedtime reading , especially since my sons always bring a stack of books, but the smiles on both of their faces make this worth the extra time. Although both boys really enjoy this, it my youngest who gets the most out of it, and this really is among his very favourite stories.
Both of my sons have the same favourite stories in this book. "Tummy Ache" is a brilliant story for children who still find bodily functions amusing as the story is about farting. Tom attempts to poison Jerry, but ends up giving him poisonous wind as instead, making the mouse into a living biological weapon. I should be well past the toilet humour stage myself, but I have to admit, this is funny, and my sons especially love this told with all the farting sounds as well. It can draw a few stares in waiting rooms - but I expect the children find that only adds to the fun. We took this several months ago on a trip to the casualty department, and after 10 hours waiting we had read all of our books over and over again. This one still kept my son content, and seemed to amuse any other children waiting as well - so a few shocked looks from grown ups was a small price to pay. If I am being honest - maybe it wasn't just the children who found shocking other adults funny.
Their second favourite story is one in which Jerry buys a pet boa constrictor - who seems to think Tom would make a tasty snack. My sons both know that snakes like this would eat mice - so they found this a funny pet for Jerry, but they also liked Tom continually trying to get the better of Jerry and his pet, and always come out the worst. There are far too many stories here to detail each one, but they all have the same slapstick humour, they all do include some level of violence, and they generally show that losing your temper and attacking others just doesn't pay off. Brains definitely come up trumps over brawn in most of the stories, with the snake story being the only exception. For all that these stories are meant to encourage violence - they do not show violence as paying off.
I have read this book so many times now, I could recite it cover to cover without looking at the text. At this point, I can not say that like this book anymore. But I do enjoy seeing my children happy, so I am still glad I bought it, and will continue reading it --- over and over again. But I did honestly enjoy this book the first time I read it. This isn't really the type of book many adults will want for their own library, but it does have a sense of nostalgia about it, and it is honestly something I could laugh at - once. As a child's book though, this is really certain to be a favourite among fans of the TV show. It is also a type of book children are much less likely to see today - a really old fashioned comic book. I firmly believe that having a really wide variety of reading material readily available does encourage children to read for pleasure, and this particular book was certainly made to be read for pleasure. I still say bringing back children's comics books would raise the nation's literacy levels far more than any academic programme could hope to achieve.