Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent is one of the funniest children's books I've read in a while, with a host of quirky illustrations adding to the shenanigans. Author/illustrator Lauren Child has a great sense of fun that infuses both the text and pictures of her "riches-to-rags story."Young Hubert is born to "frightfully, frightfully rich parents," who eventually get a bit bored with their lavish lifestyle and decide to have a child. From the start, Hubert keeps his parents in check. For instance: "One day, when Hubert felt he was old enough to tell his parents that he did not like to be called H, he telephoned down to the drawing room, where his parents were doing some light entertaining with the Elfington-Learies."This "light entertaining" consists of a wild game of Twister with two wealthy couples locked in some comical contortions you'll giggle at the sight as a very small Hubert telephones them from his bed. All goes well as the years pass, but it's lonely for Hubert, who has to climb up and down many flights of stairs to share a nightly cup of cocoa with his parents. By the time he arrives at their door, Hubert's cocoa is always cold. Hubert, it turns out, is an absolute genius, skilled in everything he tries except cake baking and flower arranging, two skills at which "he really had to work." But his odd though pleasant lifestyle comes to an abrupt end when he discovers that his parents are out of money. He tries various schemes to fill the family coffers entering his parents in board game championships and offering tours of their mansion but his parents immediately squander any money earned.
Hubert saves the day, selling off the family manse and finding an apartment where his father can work as the doorman. His parents proclaim, "We have never been so happy!" The final bonus is that now every night when Hubert makes his way to his parents' much-closer bedroom, his cocoa is still warm.
Child's fabric collages and drawings provide funky backgrounds for all of her illustrations. The Bartle Bobton-Trents are a family guaranteed to keep you entertained, whether in their mansion or in their high-rise apartment. Every family could use a little Hubert Horatio!