Blueberry Bubble Gum by Mahamad Ali Elfakir with illustrations by Victor Guiza is a new children's story inspired by the author's own young children. Intended to be read by parents as a bedtime story, or for grade school readers, this unique book blends a unique fantasy with a moral about the importance of honesty. The colorful, bold blue bubblegum themed graphics and cartoons will hold the interest of any young reader.
This simple yet complex fantasy tale, will raise many questions for the readers. As I read this eccentric story, it became apparent that some questionable and interesting elements to the story may catch the reader by surprise. First and foremost, the vivid depictions of Max as he "tooted" in his bed, followed by "a loud ripping sound" to see a "huge blueberry bubble ripping through the seat of his pajama pants" caught me off guard. The photo on page 10 depicts a confused and frightened Max laying supine in bed, birthing a huge blue bubble between his legs as he tightly grasps the bag of blueberry balls for dear life . Later in the story, Max finds himself intentionally forcing "himself to release the biggest toot he ever had" Page 33. Thereafter, the scenes depicting Max free floating is the sky propelled by a huge bubble affixed to his hindquarters does not seem like the subject matter that a mother or educator would read to children. Yet I can imagine children squealing in laughter at these scenes of the story. In this day and age, this is what is endearingly referred to "potty talk" by educators and teachers, I doubt that any teacher or parent would want to encourage this by reading a story that made reference to "toots", "tooting" and "tooted", which is a euphemism for the socially inappropriate bodily function of passing gas. Secondly, I felt it might be confusing to introduce Max to young readers as a "good" kid despite his "big problem" with lying. It begs the question as to what exactly makes Max a good kid, if all he does is lie to his parents. Thirdly, unless this adventure was staged as a lesson for young Max, an adult can not help but question as to why his dad gave Max the bag of bubble gum without having time for an explanation. The theory that this whole lesson was purposely staged is negated in the end when his parents try to tell Max he must have been dreaming. The adult reader can not help but wonder why not wait to give the magical bag of gum until the following morning? Was his father just trying to torture his young son with temptation? His naïve parents had to know he would disobey their warnings.
To the author's credit, he tells the moral of the importance of honesty and of fighting against temptation and peer pressure in a format that young children will most likely enjoy. I can imagine any child, especially elementary school aged boys, giggling and listening with their full attention as this story is read. This story shows that no one is beyond redemption, and that anyone, even the worst liar can have a change of heart. Interestingly, the author integrates the popular element of good verses evil in which their is a battle between the good gumballs, and the bad, evil green "Wayward" gumballs. The wise old gumball named "Erudition" represents the voice of reason and objectivity. There are spiritual parallels in the context of this children's fiction story. At the end Max was miraculously transformed from a boy that always told "little" lies to a boy that "would never lie again..... [and be] responsible for teaching others to do the same". page 38. I felt the ending was abrupt, yet to the point when the parents simply responded that "You and the blueberry bubble gum are safe on your bed, this all must have been a dream in your head." If it is the father that alleges the gum is magical, then one is left to wonder why he so easily discounts Max's story as being simply " a dream in his head"? As a blogger I received this book published by Elfa Books for the purpose of writing this review.