It’s Only Stanley

Authored by Jon Agee
Illustrated by Jon Agee
Published by Scallywag Press

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Jon Agee is back with his inimitable brand of humour and philosophy. This book will go on to be a firm favourite with children (and their read-aloud adults).

Stanley lives with the Wimbledon family – Wilma, Walter, their three children Wanda, Willie and Wylie, and Max the family’s cat.

One night, strange noises awaken Wilma and Walter and Max. Walter and Max go to investigate. It turns out to be only Stanley, ‘howling to the moon’. As the night wears on, more and more strange noises are heard – each time it’s ‘only Stanley’, who increasingly, seems to be engaged in a very complex project that involves engineering, physics and chemistry. We see Stanley building, plumbing, wiring and working on some kind of internal combustion apparatus. We readers can see that this is one very determined dog.

I won’t spoil the surprise. Told in a delightfully comic verse with Agee’s marvellous drawings, this is a great tale about underestimating the power of love. With just a few lines Agee can show us the perplexity and annoyance of the family and the determination on Stanley’s face. Max’s expressions are hilarious.

As with all good picturebooks, the illustrations tell far more of the story than does the text. Clues abound for the discerning reader of images – the shape of the house, the flickering image beaming in on the television. Oh, it’s fun, this book. Absurd, silly, laugh-out-loud funny. Perfect for a read-aloud. Perfect for guessing what happens next.

Agee has done it again.