Newest Review: ... a Mohican hair style, but their favourite is the bogey's sleeping arrangements. It seems bogeys like their beds wet and slimy - and squash... more
A not so scary bogeyman.
Fungus the Bogeyman - Raymond Briggs
Member Name: broxi3781
Fungus the Bogeyman - Raymond Briggs
Advantages: Unique - disgusting and very funny.
Disadvantages: Will be difficult reading for the children at an age level to best enjoy this.
I would never have chosen this book on my own, but I took the liberty of asking another dooyoo member to recommend some comic books or graphic novels for very young children, as my son was not quite 7 at the time. Jakespeed was kind enough to suggest this and Superman. I like many of the same books as Jake, and he seems to have similar if more grown up tastes to my son - so I was happy enough to take his recommendation, especially as I was able to pick up a copy at a bargain price of £1.60, including postage. Before buying this book though, I did read several reviews, and there was one thing that really stood about this book. Most of the books were by adults who remember this as their favourite book from childhood. There must be something about a book for so many people to remember it so fondly decades later. That said the book is not for everyone - and a few people despised it as well.
I think the most important thing to consider if you are interested in this book is that it is not a story per say. If you choose this looking for a story, you may be terribly disappointed. This is instead just a account of the daily life of Fungus, who lives in underground caverns coming up at night to spread the gloom of bogeyland with the occupants of the world above. This book tells all about how Fungus lives, bogey likes and dislikes and just a bit about his family. My own boys especially liked the fact that Fungus has a Mohican - as my oldest currently has a Mohican hair style, but their favourite is the bogey's sleeping arrangements. It seems bogeys like their beds wet and slimy - and squashed slugs and snails add to the slime. Another favourite section covers bogey breakaway teens called "drop ins" who engage in shocking and perverted behaviours such as bathing and listening to loud music. This section always gets my children up jumping and shouting - and is likely my neighbours least favourite part of the story - just kidding we do have very thick walls thankfully.
This book is really difficult to place an age level on. The writing is small, and over coloured backgrounds which would make it more difficult for new readers, and the vocabulary is also more suited for much older readers. Some of the words I would expect many young readers to be unfamiliar with are "conjectural" and " regurgitated" as well as made up words like "Sterocorareus Crepidatus". There is really a very a large amount of text in this book as well. For this reason I would have to say for ages 8+ for most children to read this independently. Amazon has listed it 9 -12, but I think by this age it will have lost some of the magic. I would prefer to buy it for a younger child and read it for them.
As long as a parent will be reading this, I feel this book would be enjoyable for children as young as age 2. Other reviewers have commented that the text is too long for very young children - and so it is - but you just condense it a bit if using this as a very young child's storybook. My youngest is 3, and he did really enjoy this book, but it is not your average colourful child's book. That's ok by us, we have so many books, it's nice to get something really different. The overall tone of this book is very grey and gloomy, and the pictures tend to be dull ( in colouring not in content), mostly greens browns and greys and give a feeling of dampness and darkness.
Of course there is the issue of frightening small children with tales of bogeymen. I grew up on vivid stories of battlefeilds and dead bodies, as well as the odd ghost story from a very young age, so perhaps I am very cavalier about this, but I don't feel slightly scary stories harm children at all. My boys are used to scary tales and love them, but this isn't scary. True Fungus does scare some "drycleaners" or humans above ground - but that is just his job - he doesn't mean harm or do anything to hurt people. My sons of course know bogeymen are not real anyway, but for a child frightened of bogeymen - this book could go either way. It could make them look much less scary - or it could further convince children there really is something under the bed. Parents will have to make this call for themselves. Personally, If my children were afraid of bogeyman, I would read this and then make a story up of how a human and a bogey could become friends - but it all depends on the child.
I like this book because it just seems to be one of those books that is food for the imagination. I do plan to have my son write a sequel to this. As a home educator, we often make up our own books or write sequels to books we read as means of encouraging creative writing. the possibilities for educational or classroom use of this book are really endless. You could have a bogey day - dress up as bogeymen and make horrible looking dishes to eat - like green spaghetti with sausage worms, chocolate cake dug up like dirt with gummy worms and so on. It would be very easy to make a box into an underground bogey home and clay bogey families. Children could easily act out bogey stories and there is play for school use online.
This is a book rich in imagery, and full of conversation starters. It took us well over an hour to get through it the first time. There are plenty of lessons in here - such as looking at things from another viewpoint. But if you ask my sons what they like this, all deeper philosophical questions will be forgotten. They like the gross bits. That's OK too - children do like gross things and this book certainly fills a niche there.
I am giving this book 5 stars. The main reason for my rating is my feeling that this book is unique. You certainly will not have a half dozen others just like it on your bookshelf.
I picked my copy up on ebay, which currently has copies from £2.50 with free postage. A new copy would cost £5.68 from Amazon, which is the least expensive of all the online retailers I have found, and includes free delivery. A 35th anniversary edition will be available soon, at £7.19, but in all honesty, I would just go with the original.
Summary: Ideal as a read aloud book.