Our next pick in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide is not yet available from retailers in the US, so you’ll have to order it directly from the publisher in the UK. That’s why I’m recommending it this early in the Gift Guide, so that you’ll have time to have it delivered. Luckily, because of the chaos over Brexit, the British Pound is at a low point, and that makes for the best exchange rate in US dollars in a long time. You can order this book in signed and unsigned editions HERE.
The book is The Chronicles of Don’t Be So Ridiculous Valley, an absurdist fairy tale written by Mike Batt, whose work as a musician I’ve been telling PopCult readers about for years. Batt first made his mark writing and performing songs for The Wombles, a mid-1970s children’s show in Britain which was about little creatures living in Wimbledon who picked up trash and recycled what they could, then disposed of the rest.
Batt then recorded a series of solo albums which brought him a cult following with music that somehow managed to combine full orchestrations with progressive rock and New Wave. Over the last thirty years or so Batt has guided the careers of artists like Katie Melua and The Planets as a manager and producer while also working on a myriad of other projects.
In the early 90s, to take his mind off of a very serious work-in-progress, Batt began writing what became The Chronicles of Don’t Be So Ridiculous Valley, a very clever, very silly fairy tale that shows the influence of Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, Shrek and The Young Ones, while remaining quite original.
The end result is delightful and whimsical without being so sweet that it makes you want to puke.
The book’s PR does as good a job as I can of describing the story:
Can a slug learn to play the piano, even though he has no hands? Can a slug defeat an army of nasty, evil Christmas-hating slug-squashing Pigfrogs? Can he trick a beautiful fairy into fancying him for long enough to marry him and live happily ever after?
Probably not, but if you don’t try…
Step with us into the crazy world of Don’t Be So Ridiculous Valley (which is actually a hill) and to Woodland Land, home of two married fairy helicopter pilots, Nigel and Dotty Farnsbarnes.
Yep, there’s a ton of fairies and slugs in this book, no question.
This is the first edition of The Chronicles of Don’t Be So Ridiculous Valley as a physical book, and it’s lushly illustrated by a team of artists led by John Golser, plus it’s just loads of fun. Batt’s writing style is very British, very silly and immensely entertaining.
This book will be the perfect gift for the young and young at heart, and I would suspect that it’s a good choice to read to children…who aren’t easily frightened by Pigfrogs (seen below). The story of Ergo (seen left), the slug with a dream, is sure to inspire and/or confuse kids everywhere.
Since this concept has been kicking around in the mind of the very busy Mr. Batt for probably close to a quarter century, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there has been talk of adapting it into other media. Rik Mayall recorded a large part of a proposed podcast starring Ergo before his passing, and you can hear some of that at this website devoted to a proposed film version.
Not only is this a delightful and very entertaining illustrated storybook, it’s also your chance to get in on what may well be the NEXT BIG THING!
And even if it doesn’t, at least you get an overwhelmingly enjoyable story out of the deal, and a book that you will treasure for years.