Highly Inappropriate Tales For Young People, by Douglas Coupland and Graham Roumieu
When you hold this book you’re not just holding a book but holding seven very bizarre tales. Forget Grimm’s fairy tales, forget famous short stories, here are seven wonderfully sickly stories ranging from child shaking to cannibalism. Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People most defiantly takes strange stories to the next level.
The seven stories centre around seven very odd characters. Donald, the Highly Hostile Juice Box looks at the life of a destructive and murderous juice box. Sandra, the Truly Dreadful Babysitter centres around a wildly irresponsible babysitter. Hans, the Weird Exchange Student is a rather random tale about a boy who likes to collect half eaten pieces of food. Brandon, the Action Figure with Issues is an odd tale about an action figure’s revenge on his owner. Cindy, the Terrible Role Model is the story of a narcissistic doll who cooks up a deathly plan. Kevin, the Hobo Minivan with Extremely Low Morals is the strangest tale about a hobo who likes to lure children into his van and shake it so they vomit. And Mr. Fraser, the Undead Substitute Teacher is the darkest story about a Zombie teacher and his appetites.
Although completely random and, in parts, quite bleak Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People works. It knows no boundaries, has no good guys, no bad guys, no messages to go away with and, most importantly, has no morals. And yet it works. It does not seek to be understood or analysed, it does not want to sit on the shelves of the great writers of our time, instead it wants us to pick it up, enjoy it, laugh at it, be disgusted by it and leave it.
When you begin the book you are plunged into a strange tale following a juice box. One – this is a random object to make the main character and two his doings around the school is reminiscent of students such as the shooters in Columbine. The tale looks at school violence but does so in a way that’s not serious but light-hearted. In a sense the tales latch onto some serious issues but the book is not serious and does not mean to be serious thus any reader venturing into the tales must know this fact and, when finished, they leave with a strange appetite for the bizarre and go onto the next book.
Highly Inappropriate could be linked with Tim Burton’s The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy – random tales about bizarre people but what Highly Inappropriate lacks is a sense of point in some of the tales. The last tale, most importantly, focuses more on the random rather than the bizarre. Such a book tries to do both but doesn’t quite do justice to the bizarre side of the stories.
Highly Inappropriate is a fun, brave collection of seven short tales. The illustrations leap out with beautiful colours which show the bizarre and the macabre. Although some tales lack any depth the others hold them tight. It’s safe to say that any reader that picks up this book, attracted to the drawings on the front cover, will not be prepared for what lies within.