Too Many Girls (surely not!)
Jonty Lees battle-of-the-sexes tale was highly-commended in our category for Most Promising New Talent
“BEFORE I HAD children, I knew some other men who had lots of daughters,” says author-illustrator Jonty Lees. “I thought, they’ve got the life! All those girls loving you and your house being lovely, and I could never understand why they enjoyed escaping so much.” That was before the arrival of Mils, Jonty’s girlfriend, and their two daughters, Rosy and Kitty – and an explosion of all-singing, all-dancing pink girliness, where Jonty discovered his desire to do manly things, like watching the footie and eating pies, was frowned upon. “Being a dad in a house full of girls is brilliant most of the time,” concedes Jonty. “But sometimes everything just gets too pink and too high-pitched!” It’s this predicament that prompted Jonty’s first foray into picture books, with a delightfully playful ode about the trials and tribulations of being Man About The House.
Written in the most jaunty of rhymes, our stubbly hero, always clad in boyish blue, is in revolt against the tyranny of twirlers and hatches a mischievous plan: he shaves off his beard and bestows it on the unsuspecting girls while they are sleeping. They, of course, are not amused and a battle of the sexes ensues as they each try to stamp their authority (and superiority) in a furious competition to repaint the house in pretty pink and boyish blue. Finally, a truce is declared as they all agree the emerging colour – purple – is an acceptable compromise for all.
Though there is friction and a little furious fighting at times, the plot is executed with a good dose of humour, and the happy conclusion of daddy watching the footie while having his nails painted is sure to raise a wry smile in both male and female camps – even if it’s a little far from the truth chez Lees. “A more accurate picture is probably likely to be me being really annoying by trying to cut their hair while they are watching Strictly Come Dancing,” admits Jonty. So what’s the moral of the tale? “It’s about sharing and compromise, and a live and let live attitude,” he says. “And that everyone loves purple.”
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