“I try ignoring the children but they just keep making fun of me. How can I make them stop? It isn’t nice to laugh at people about their name,” says Mrs. Annathena Gilly Gully From Puddle Rumple Tilly Willy.
So begins the thought-provoking treasure of a book of the same name by local author and Tacoma native Chellis Swenson Jensen. Aimed primarily at 6- to 9-year-old readers, it tells the story of children who are bullied by an older girl into innocently believing that teasing and name-calling are fun.
Their target is a quirky lady of indeterminate years named Mrs. Annathena Gilly Gully From Puddle Rumple Tilly Willy. She tries to ignore the children’s teasing but after enduring laughter from adults, and now children, she decides the solution is to change her name. Her big green parrot, Maurice, rides along on her hat as she attempts to seek help from local officials and townspeople.
Annathena learns some things about herself after her efforts fail to help her get a new name, and children find out that people do not like to be teased and called names. In the end she comes to a surprising conclusion and makes some new friends.
Most of the characters in the story have no gender and are referred to as the mayor, the secretary, etc. This invites the readers to create their own vision of gender, age, name, and size. It becomes their own personal story and they become a part of the book. Children are also introduced to new words. “I don’t talk down to children,” Jensen said.
The bright and colorful illustrations make Annathena and Maurice come alive. The pictures are the work of the author’s son Paul Swenson.
The book can be read to children from age 5 and up. A separate CD features John Toth narrating and Jensen doing the voices. The book and the CD contain a song by the author, “We Might Even Get To Be Friends.” Both book and CD are available through Jensen’s website, www.chellisjensen.com. Published by Fairwood Press, the book is available at the following Tacoma stores: Giardini’s, King’s Books, The Old House and The Pacific Northwest Shop. The book and CD are also in the Wheelock Library.
Meet the author Nov. 13 at the Holiday Book Fair at Freighthouse Square, and Nov. 20 at the PLU Yule Boutique. Val Dumond, a well known Tacoma author, editor and teacher, says, “This book is a jewel of a book for kids who love to smile and have fun with words. Jensen is a topnotch wordsmith with the heart and understanding of children of all ages.”
Jensen graduated from Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in speech and drama. For 25 years she performed throughout the country as Rhinestone Rosie. This is her first published story. It was originally made up for her granddaughter while Jensen was driving to Seattle. The book’s subject matter is timely, and it is a good gift choice for the holidays.