Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Review: Swamp Water by Robert Munsch

Swamp Water is another witty and colourful tale from Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko. 

Victoria's grandmother takes Victoria out for lunch. Chaos ensues because fancy food and kids don't mix. Victoria tries to order kiddy foods such as hamburgers, chicken, and PB & J sandwiches. Poor Victoria has to explain to the waiter and the chef what a PB & J sandwich is and how to make one, since the restaurant has the ingredients, but they insist they don't have them. 

The title refers to Victoria's drink of choice (swamp water is a mixture of pop/juice that resembles the colour of a swamp). It's the last insulting straw to the waiter, who has already been offended by her choice of food.

I chuckled at how the waiter phrased his asking Victoria what she would like to order: "Would you like our Fancy Restaurant Fancy Lunch?" Whatever the waiter actually asked doesn't matter; this is what a child would hear when someone spews strange words at them, when there's fancy china on the table, and a well-dressed waiter staring down at them.

I can't decide if I dislike the waiter, or if I pity him. Victoria isn’t as bratty as some of the kids that Munsch writes about, but the grandmother does let her get away with her behaviour. The grandmother smiles good-naturedly throughout Victoria's outbursts, as if her charming granddaughter is being adorable, rather than stubborn and rude. There is no parental control over children here, but it wouldn't be funny if Grandma sternly told Victoria to calm down and ordered something edible for her. 

Nonetheless, Swamp Water is a hilariously realistic story that gently mocks fancy restaurants that do not accommodate kids. This is not a story with a moral at the end, but it is funny in typical-Munsch fashion. Kids can appreciate Victoria's determination to order something edible at a fancy restaurant and parents can appreciate the hilarious and realistic comment on what it's like to dine at a fancy restaurant with kids. 

Bottom line: we've all been the kid who just wants chicken fingers at a place that would never DARE serve anything like it. 

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