The Giant Jam Sandwich.

Story and illustration by John Vernon Lord, verse by Janet Burroway

LUNA: This is a wonderful children’s book. I remember, when my humans were small, I read them this and they loved it. It had the capacity to both sooth and entertain. The rhyming is alluring, addictive, and alliterative. The pace is quick, the humour sharp. Thank goodness for this slice of innocent heaven in today’s cynical, polemicised world.

KURT: You’ve a lot to learn about allegorical stories. This book describes the circumstances leading to the Manhattan Project. The Sandwich is the A-Bomb.

CTHULHU, GREAT AND TERRIBLE LORD OF THE DEEP: No, it is about my minions and my awakening from dreamful slumber in the halls of sunken R’leh.

LUNA: Please don’t ruin this for me. The verse by Janet Burroway rolls as sweetly off the tongue as that sticky preserve itself. Listen to how it starts:

“One fine summer in Itching Down, four million wasps flew into town”.

CTHULHU, DEAD BUT DREAMING: Those wasps are my cultists. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

KURT: You’re lapsing into R’Lyehian again. Please try to keep it intelligible.

LUNA: Settle down, the both of you. Listen to this:

“Then Bap the Baker leapt to his feet, and cried, ‘what do wasps like best to eat? Strawberry jam! Now wait a minute! If we made a giant sandwich, we can trap them in it!”

KURT: There are an awful lot of exclamation marks! And by the way, this sounds just like a meeting of the US National Defence Research Committee – probably.

LUNA: I didn’t write it, but I suppose the exclamations add to the naivety of the piece, and it gives the parents and dogs dramatic cues when reading it out aloud to loved ones. That’s what I mean about this book, it’s not so much a read as a performance. Listen:

“For hours and hours, they let it cook. It swelled inside until the windows shook. It was piping hot when they took it out. And the villagers raised a mighty shout. ‘Isn’t it crusty! Aren’t we clever!’ But the wasps were just as bad as ever.”

CTHULHU, EXISTENTIAL TERROR AND CHIEF SCOURGE OF MANKIND: I am the bread, I am the loaf, I am the yeast. Follow me, or sink into doughy oblivion.

LUNA / KURT: Cthulhu, behave.


LUNA: I haven’t yet mentioned the illustrations by John Vernon Lord. They are nothing less than sublime. I love the birds flying off with the wasp-encrusted sandwich:

KURT: Those birds are soviet spies, making good with stolen data from Columbia University.

LUNA: Silly Kurt. Cthulhu, do you have anything to add? Is there anything you liked about this book?


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