An utterly odd paean to trickle-down economics, British-style, this adult-centric examination of wealth, generosity and greed won’t garner much interest.
Denver, a red-haired gent with a sweet smile, has a big house, large staff, pleasant temperament and loads of money. He patronizes local businesses and gives gifts to children at Christmastime. All is well until an unnamed troublemaker suggests that the current situation is unfair. Easily swayed, the local villagers begin to resent Denver’s good fortune. Amazingly enough, he decides to share his wealth. Initially thrilled, the villagers wind up even more unhappy than before after they squander their money and Denver is no longer available to support their community. Our hero, meanwhile, has moved on to another pleasant little town, where his hobby, painting, earns him an excellent living and brings financial success to his new neighbors. In closing, readers are warned to ignore the efforts of the stranger who is still “wandering around breeding discontent.” Childlike artwork features flat figures with simply drawn features posed against vividly colored backgrounds. Humorous touches enliven some pictures, but in general the illustrations appear static, further distancing listeners from the abstract ideas raised by McKee.
Ultimately there’s no child-friendly story to enjoy, and neither the pro–status quo/anti-individualism message nor the unflattering portrait of the middle and working class as foolish and profligate is likely to resonate with U.S. readers. (Picture book. 6-8)