A Funny Thing Happened at the Museum

A Funny Thing Happened at the Museum

Staycations seem sensible. You artfully dodge the perils of flying with a 3 and 1 year old (see my review for Mr Postmouse Goes on Holiday), but then have to work extra hard at being on holiday. You are, after all, still on home turf. We pitched up at a cabin in the woods and enjoyed what most Brits (with toddlers) do when staycationing: raging at disposable barbecues that won’t light, making various trips to A&E, pleading at the kids to sleep, realising halfway down a pint-sized water slide that you’re at least 20cm too tall, and exclusively subsisting on burgers, pizzas and chips. At the end of the first week we were in dire need of vegetables so headed home. Back at Sharpe HQ and suddenly chores are creeping into the staycation schedule. We’re de-moulding the bathroom, sanding the doors and at one point I was elbow deep in a waste pipe. It’s not Tuscany that’s for sure. BUT we did do something very fun indeed.

“DINOSAURS DINOSAURS!” the kids roared. So we obliged and trotted into London. But as we tore around the museum it slowly dawned on our curious daughter Alice that the dinosaur bones weren’t moving. She thought we were going to visit real dinosaurs. I guess anything’s possible when you’re three, right? We’d just read ‘A Funny Thing Happened at the Museum’ by David Cali and Benjamin Chaud, which almost certainly proves that to be the case.

A ruffled little chap named Henry, and his wide-eyed dachshund recount their visit to the museum. They’re late and the class has gone in without them, so Henry and hound are playing catch-up. They romp through the exhibits, enjoying an off-the-map tour… making balloon animals with the Neanderthals, riding on a torrent of lava, breaking the T-Rex and (err) putting it back together again, scrubbing the whale, grooming the woolly mammoth and finishing off a few paintings. It’s lots of good fun that is funny.

‘ “So what did you think of our museum field trip, Henry?”
Well it wasn’t exactly what I expected…
As soon as I walked in, I was charged by a triceratops.’

A Funny Thing Happened at the MuseumThis is one of those truly delectable picture books for little book munchers. Yes, Chaud’s artwork is a feast for the eyes, but it also feeds little minds, showing-off all the treasures to be found in our wonderful museums. This is the fourth in a series of Henry books by the European duo (Cali’s Italian and Chaud’s French) – all equally calamitous as Henry winds up on yet another misadventure. Each book is written as a recount from Henry, so are more comic book style than traditional picture book narrative, which works well for getting Henry’s voice across and for maintaining a break-neck pace. As for the book itself, Chronicle Books, like more and more of today’s indie publishers, focus on precisely how a book will feel in your hands. All the little details, from the neat little A5 format to the textured hardcover. It all adds to the experience of truly treasuring a book. ‘A Funny Thing Happened at the Museum’ has great appeal for kids and adults alike and it’s just the right size to slip into your bag when you next trot off to the museum.


Davide Cali
Benjamin Chaud
Chronicle Books

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