Sunday, October 12, 2014
The Hilarious Tale of "The Strange Case of William Whipper-Snapper"
One of the earliest fantasy books I read as a child, which I didn't pay much attention to at first glance in the school library; at the time I was yet to fully appreciate fantasy books except Alice In Wonderland. This highly entertaining and hilarious page turner by David R. Morgan (his first novel) is set in Victorian times, about a boy-William Norton Whipper Snapper; very intelligent but preferred to use his brains to cause mischief at school, much to the annoyance of his grumpy father. He does not get along with his vain tattle tale sister Emma, nor with his parents either. A few days to Christmas he discovers a strange silver box underneath the roots of an uprooted old tree, a talking, very conceited and annoying silver box which calls itself a '1.B Prize', a talisman made by Jovian 'The Prize Maker of Theomodor' and its sole purpose is to grant unlimited wishes to its owner. William soon discovers the I.B prize brings far more trouble than good and after Emma discovers his secret, they both embark on a quest to return the prize to the 'first given' (an ancestor of theirs) , which involved going back in time until they find the right ancestor; that way, it will never be passed to William and his descendants.
The story mostly revolves round William, Emma being a supporting character and their parents not featuring much in the book. As mentioned before in the earlier part of the story, they don't get along; Emma always trying to stick her nose into his business causing William to snap at her:
'Don't go poking your nose in where it shouldn't be, or the Man in the Moon will change it into a fat pork sausage and cook it for his supper!'
Fantasy tales usually have talismans that grant wishes but the '1.B' prize is one no one would find useful! It's more interested in granting wishes more to keep itself in excellent working condition than to actually satisfy its owner; as William was quick to find out and after two botched wishes regarded the 1.B prize as ' becoming as useful as a flu epidemic.' Plus, the prize is extremely bossy and rather insulting:
'Now kindly make a proper request. I might as well be under the tree for the amount of good you're doing me!'
Emma, thanks to her usual nosiness, finds out about the prize but rather than going to tell tales to their parents (too amazed on seeing a talking silver case) gangs up with William to see what they can do about returning the stupid case who is determined to thwart them in any way it can and tries many times to convince them to keep it.
William and Emma go back in time to find the 'first given'; first Elizabethan England- meeting an ancestor called Lord Benjamin Whippsnappin, then encounting Edras Whippsnapson in Norman- Saxton England before heading to Pre-Roman Britain, afterwards meeting Jovian the Prize Maker himself.
For fans of fantasy/adventure tales, this is a very interesting comic one but I'm not sure if it's easy to find these days except online; I'm lucky enough to still have my lone copy which was bought several years ago. But if one is lucky to find it, you won't be disappointed!
Quote from book:
He was also coming round to realise the merits of doing things for yourself, not putting the burden of achieving something on the dubious shoulders of luck, wishes and dreams. One could say, in fact, that finding the case had, in some ways, opened his eyes.