1 out of 4 stars
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Sigfried’s Smelly Socks! is an educational children’s picture book written and illustrated by Len Foley. But this book doesn’t hold a dry, musty scent that’ll make your head swim with pleasure. No, this book will make your nose hairs recoil at the faintest whiff. The old slice of pizza used as a bookmark, the random nose booger, and the invisible, stinky spot are just a few things that will make you cringe at the thought of even touching this book. But these things are nothing compared to Sigfried’s smelly socks… Or his method of washing them.
Dedicated to his daughters, Becky and Sofia, for their never-ending pile of socks, Sigfried’s Smelly Socks! uses low-brow humour to teach children about colours, patterns, foods, and objects. The style of text and illustration is similar to Foley’s Four Funny Potatoes!, where the contrasting illustrations between cartoon characters and real images of foods or objects bring an impressive, sensory dimension. These elements combined with rhyming, heighten the reading experience.
What I enjoy the most about Sigfried’s Smelly Socks! is the organisation of the text and illustrations, because the text and illustrations have been formatted in such way that the scenes connect and almost overlap. Doing this results in faster pacing, and thus, heightens the impact of the climax. However, Sigfried’s Smelly Socks! does not have the same magic that Four Funny Potatoes! does.
Where Four Funny Potatoes! explores a moral value, exercises children’s imagination and logic in a creative way, and is witty in its characterisation and plot, Sigfried’s Smelly Socks! doesn't make any attempt to utilise these elements. It leaves me feeling as though Sigfried’s Smelly Socks! doesn’t have a true purpose but to think of as many gross things as possible for cheap humour. But, for whatever reason, despite not connecting with the book, I still feel a spark of that familiar magic when I turn to the final page. Suffice it to say, it could be considered an enjoyable read, if only for the clever ending. However, this book doesn't seem appropriately marketed for children between three and seven. It is too boring for a seven-year-old, and I feel that some parents of three-year-olds would take issue with the rather disgusting illustrations and plot, because it is less educational than it is gross.
The ultimate downside of this book is the lack of revision in regards to word choices, typographical errors, and slang. Spaghetti is spelled as “spagetti”. The slang of ‘old’ is spelled “‘ol”. I also feel that the slang for ‘sauerkraut’ needs reconsideration for two key reasons: a book that is educational should teach children the correct terminology because it is an educational book, and an educational book should use the correct terminology to avoid any confusion over “kraut” being a potential derogatory term. On the same wave of correct terminology, I’ve never heard of “blubber lumps” being food. And as for “sow lard”, I don’t understand why it couldn’t have simply been “lard”, because it seems a little bit strange and misguiding to emphasise that lard comes from a "sow" rather than a general 'pig'.
In reflection of the word choices, typographical errors, and slang, I believe these have not been edited because the book was rushed. This assumption resonates with the fact that this book doesn’t have any character depth or strong educational or moral values, unlike Foley’s previous book which was clearly loved. In consideration of this book as a whole, and my major disappointment after reading Foley’s previous children’s picture book and hoping for another decent read, I rate Sigfried's Smelly Socks! one out of four stars.
Sigfried’s Smelly Socks!
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