Believathon 2 – My Family and Other Animals

For the last week or so of May, I have been trying to read books from the stops on the Believathon 2 journey that I didn’t visit during Believathon itself. This was my choice for Baba Yaga’s house.

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, audiobook read by Hugh Bonneville

This is one of those funny books that is both classed as kids and adult, but with a young narrator and a somewhat lively family life, I felt it more than suited the prompt of a book featuring family relationships.

It’s the autobiographical tale of Gerald, age ten and his long-suffering family as he immerses himself in his love for creatures of all kinds.

With scorpions unwittingly set loose at dinner, a bedroom brawl between a gecko and a mantis and a pair of rather curious magpies wreaking havoc in his brother’s room, there is much hilarity and younger readers (particularly those with older siblings) will no doubt be thrilled to see it!

Likewise, Gerry’s reluctance and attempts to avoid his lessons can’t help but appeal and raise a smile. And his family itself has an eccentric charm and is as loyal and loving as they are argumentative and petty!

The escapades beginning with his mother’s swimsuit pursuits are a case in point – from looking on in horror at their mother’s choice of attire to the family’s amateurish nighttime rowing to the dog’s reaction to the swimsuit, there is a lot to laugh about! While our families may not be having quite this sort of caper, there’s a familiarity to the sentiments and behaviours that many will relate to.

Then there is the setting, which feels so real. Both Corfu itself and its animal inhabitants are described brilliantly; a book featuring do many creatures being carefully observed could easily become dull or too factual, but this manages to find a perfect balance as it details the observations with humour, wonder and much anthropomorphism to retain our interest. The scene with the mating tortoises is particularly amusing.

I very much enjoyed this and it will make a brilliant addition to my late UKS2/’tween’ recommendations in work!

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