Books My Mother Gave Me: The Chewing Gum Rescue and Other Stories (Margaret Mahy) Short Story Review

Published November 4, 2013 by ElisaChristy

This book remains to this day, one of my designated insomnia books. If I can’t sleep, a few stories from this book are just the thing to relax me enough that I can sleep. Not that it’s a boring book, in fact I’ve read it so many times I can even read the ripped page where half of the words are missing. 

The book is a collection of stories, so some are more entertaining than others. The Chewing Gum Rescue – the first story in the book – tells of children called Florence, Flora, Fenella, Felicity and Francesca (A lot of the names in the stories use alliteration) and how their passion for a certain extra sticky chewing gum helps them capture goat thieves who are trying to steal their father’s goats.

“A Canoe is just not the same sort of thing as a tree-house.”

The Giant’s Bath tells of a family who buy a house which used to belong to a giant and as a result they end up being swept down the plug hole of the giant’s bath and end up almost slaying but then saving a dragon in the process.

Adventure seems to be a key theme in a lot of the stories –The Boy Who Made Things Up, about a boy who is so good at making things up, others can see his imaginings too, and the Travelling Boy and The Stay at Home Bird about a boy who wants to travel, but whose aunt won’t let him, so he gets replaced by a bird and is finally free to make all the journeys he wants.

” [Sam] saw at once that the pet shop man was full of journeys too, but that his journeys had all been taken. He wore them openly on his face, which was line like a map with the tracery of a thousand explorations.”

Some of the stories are more readable than others, I remember being bored by the story of The World’s Highest Tray Cloth, while the writing is good and even the premise – a girl climbs the tallest tree in town and wants to mark her achievement. It never seemed to have as much drama or adventure as some of the others, but reading it again, it does make you nostalgic for childhood when all you needed to do to be happy was climb a tree.

“One of those small shops that seem to have been there for ever.”

The stories in the book work well whether they are being read to you or by yourself. They are safe stories where nothing particularly bad happens and everything works out well in the end, which is probably why it works so well as an insomnia book for me.


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