Norwegian parents, grandparents and babysitters: Brace yourselves. Now you must learn how to rap “Tjoff-Tjoff-Tjoff-Tjoff-Tjoffo-Tjoffo-Tjoff!». The Ylvis brothers have teamed up with one of Norway’s leading illustrators, Svein Nyhus, and made a children’s book out of the monster hit “What Does the Fox Say?”.
It might seem as the ultimate attempt to milk a giant success. But this is actually great stuff.
Suits the Text
Ylvis’ text is basically a slightly rowdy and silly children’s book parody. There have been no major changes from the song except that the text is translated into Norwegian.
An occasional text line is shortened or removed, including the cliché “You’re my guardian angel.” They have adapted some transitions and written a new ending. The text has thus become more compressed, a little less parodical, but still energetic. Lines like ”Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding” will make you laugh.
Svein Nyhus’ drawings suit the nonsense text perfect. He maintains the easy absurd atmosphere from the music video, while he has created an independent visual expression. At first glance, the illustrations look rowdy and messy, but they are thoughtful in every detail (and there are a lot of them!). They are dancing from page to page. The color palette of reddish-brown, blue-gray and golden yellow calms the story, letting the fox, which has been given the strongest color, to stand out.
- See also: Now We Know What ‘The Fox’ Say!
Parody of the Parody
One of the great things about the book is how the stories communicate with scenes from the music video. It starts with a costume party with drinks and party hats. But instead of people wearing animal masks, the animals are wearing mask. The fox appears later in the book, like a glowing red star in the moonlight, with wild eyes and a cheeky grin. Later in the book the number of foxes in every shapes and sizes increases, all wearing ties and posing in familiar dance moves from the video. The other animals are wearing fox masks and the fox is dressed up like an eagle. The penultimate verse is new and goes:
“But when all is dark and quiet / and the people go home / and no one is nagging / the fox comes out / And say …”
Nyhus’ illustrations create not only a children’s book based on a children’s book parody, but a parody of parody.
Must Be Sung
It’s a strange experience to read a book where the text creates such music inside your head. You know how it should sound like, but it is not easy to get to. Several sections have to be sung, and many passages are quite difficult just to read. How many “oo’s” and “ahi’s” was it? The rhythm is not optimal throughout the book. And “Your fur is red, / so beautiful, / like an angel in a dream” does not sound very good without a melody.
Hardly anyone will read this book without hearing the song «What does the fox say?» inside their head. The book is more durable than Ylvis’ monster hit and Svein Nyhus’ solid illustrations ensure that the book can withstand the next major YouTube phenomenon.
Book review by Marie L. Kleve
Editor’s Note: US publisher Simon & Schuster Children’s bought north American rights and will print 250,000 copies of the book, to be published on 10 December.
Text translated by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews
Illustrations by Svein Nyhus