When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs (Hamish Hamilton, £3.95).
JIM BLOGGS was a conscientious lavatory attendant until he got mixed up with reading-books. He then became 'Gentleman Jim' the highwayman and ended up in prison. So much we learnt from Raymond Briggs' earlier cartoon book.
Briggs, inventor of Fungus the Bogeyman, has an original approach to his art which is popular with adults as much as children. He has an insight into the humdrum normality of domestic life which endears his characters to the reader (or looker-at-pictures).
In When the Wind Blows, Jim and his wife Hilda have retired to a country cottage which they have named Jiminilda. Jim has been reading again, this time the government and council advice about survival precautions in the event of nuclear war.
The news comes of imminent war and the simple-minded couple go about making ready their cottage, full of memories of the blitz. The tale is full of humour. Jim discovers one pamphlet tells him to hang white sheets in the windows, another to remove loose hangings from the windows.
The bomb falls. The con sequences are horrible. moving and final. The author, who has sent his book to all MPs, could see no way out but Jim and Hi lda s deaths, once the action was set in motion.
This is the most deeply affecting accounts of the consequence of nuclear war I have read. I cannot say what children will make of it. It is far nastier than Fungus the Bogeyman, but that may be because it is more real.
If Raymond Briggs has joined the anti-nuclear lobby he has done so sanely. This blockbuster of a book cannot fail to entertain, astound and distress any adult wise enouigh to buy it.