I was very excited about this book because I would like my kids to get into tarot, and I thought this might serve as an inspiration – apart from me using the cards to tell them bedtime stories.
My elder son is six years old; exactly the age this book was meant for, so instead of his normal bedtime story I read him young Billy’s rhyming adventure through the Major Arcana. Well, how should I put it…
He was engaged, and enjoyed the rhymes
Even though they were slightly off at times
And hadn’t made much narrative sense.
He asked some questions and made some queries
Of why Billy craved only crisps and candies
And why was he so very dense.
A good boy like me, he said
Would eat cheese on toast bread
And some stew if was left from dinner.
But Billy was spoiled
And that’s why he toyed
With his food, like he was a sinner.
Sinner he was as the Pope declared
Then he just vanished and never cared
For an explanation to be told
As to why things were happening
Or what was the reasoning
Behind the plot to so unfold.
Despite these slight flaws
We read it till it closed
And we found out what was the end
Which led to more confusion
But have no delusion
That at last Billy did transcend.
Excuse my bad rhyming, people. To sum it up, we found the rhymes a bit stretched, and the story a bit wishy-washy and at times utterly nonsensical. Why certain things were happening was never explained, and even though I have more than a decade of experience with Tarot, I couldn’t connect those happenings to the meanings of the specific cards they were meant to represent, let alone my son making sense of them. He constantly asked “Why did he do that?” and “Why did this happen?” and I really had to think hard to come up with a somewhat satisfying answer.
I was curious of how Mr Ajuonuma would deal with the more difficult cards, such as Death and the Tower, especially because the book was meant for kids. He managed them in an absolutely non-scary way though, hardly paying them any attention and quickly resolving any issues that rose from encountering them through a mysterious girl who just appeared when help was needed and vanished as soon as she was done.
The one thing my son and I both liked were the pictures. They are in black and white, but Beverley Young’s heart-warming style gives the book a much needed breeze of fun.
When I asked my son if he liked the book, he answered “I liked it a little bit.” He is a little diplomat, so this would translate to “let’s not have it again please.” Maybe when he is a bit older he will have more fun with it, but at the moment he doesn’t seem to like it very much.