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Eugene’s Story

by Richard Scrimger, Gillian Johnson, illus.

A middle child who’s sandwiched between two sisters, Eugene gets a lot of interference when he’s trying to tell his story. For that matter, he gets a lot of interference when he tries to do anything at all, like dressing himself (“Your shirt’s on backwards!”), pouring cereal for his baby sister Bun Bun (“It’s a mess – a grrreat big mess!”), or riding his two-wheeler bike to the park (“Your bike has training wheels. It’s a four-wheeler, not a two-wheeler!”). The derisory voice belongs to Winifred, poor Eugene’s older sister, and she becomes increasingly obnoxious as she criticizes and mocks everything Eugene attempts.

Eugene appeared in two earlier picture books about Bun Bun by Mr. Christie Award-winning writer Richard Scrimger, but this time Eugene gets a book to himself, and finally figures out a way to tell his own story without interference. The importance of the story running in the child’s head, about how he’s going through his day and accomplishing the little tasks he attempts, is delightfully conveyed in this book, and its conclusion is an amusing tribute to the power of imagination.

The design and illustrations of Eugene’s Story effectively contrast Eugene’s version of what he’s doing, which becomes increasingly fantasized as his efforts are put down by Winifred, with her unflattering but realistic retelling of each episode. Gillian Johnson’s comical pictures show first Eugene’s version of the story, in a boxed text, then on the next page and unboxed, the scene as Winifred sees it. The contrasting details give preschoolers lots to pore over and laugh about, and maybe an occasional older sibling will pick up the book and get the message.