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Gentleman Jim

 

by Raymond Briggs

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Format: Hardcover, 6x9, full color, $14.95

ISBN: 978-1-897299-36-4

Reviewed by: School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up
Jim Bloggs is a middle-aged toilet cleaner who dreams of a life filled with adventure. Influenced by his nightly reading of children's storybooks, he imagines himself as a pirate, a cowboy, and even a successful Renaissance painter—anything to help break the monotony of his daily life. While the storybook-inspired illustrations appear simple, Briggs makes skillful use of every element on the page; from layouts to the look of text boxes, everything functions to match and enhance the moods and themes of the tale. Jim's imagination is little more than a quaint eccentricity until it starts to bleed into his real life. His desire to become a highwayman prompts him to wear a dramatic cape and toy sword; he finally comes to the attention of the authorities when he illegally buys a donkey for a valiant steed and rides it around the city, looking for excitement. But his charming, childlike innocence wins in the end; when confronted with circumstances that could have been very sad, Jim's fertile mind manages to turn it into another triumph. This edition of a 1980 work includes an introduction by cartoonist Seth that explains how influential Briggs has been over the years. While the innocent-looking art might turn off readers looking for an edgier story, anyone picking up this title will be treated to a sweet, whimsical tale.— Matthew L. Moffett, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA