Just in time for the hottest day this year in Seattle-- here's the grand finale of this beloved 1957 Lulu-Tubby summer camp special.
"The Lost Mumday" walks the fine line between canned sitcom and perverse comedy-of-embarrassment. Mumday is a pervasive second-string theme of the Lulu-verse. The boys' solemn determination not to speak to girls on a selected day is forever destined to failure.
When Stanley has Tubby and Iggy indulge in some mild cross-dressing, and places them in the eye of the hurricane (the girls' camp), the story picks up appreciably. Iggy's failure to maintain the feminine ruse gives a potentially stale story a nice little lift.
"Voo-Dood It?" follows an innocent arts-and-crafts project to its unexpectedly nightmarish end. Tubby's infidelity to Lulu (by a blonde Gloria-esque hussy) causes the rotund one a great deal of superstitious anxiety. All's well in the end. Bonus points for the droll non-sequitir of "Do you like peanut butter?"
"Night Noises:" here's a beautiful story, with a noble blend of melancholy and machine-gun verbal laffs. I love the girl camper's comment that the sound of the katydids brings with it sadness--it signals the end of summer.
Three pages is all this poem-like story requires. This is my favorite story in the book.
In conclusion, "Summer Souvenirs" masterfully melds melancholy and mirth. Lulu's OCD-fueled rant, in the fifth panel of the first page, is one of the funniest moments in all of John Stanley's work.
Once again, this story is riven with melancholy. The kids have pangs of loss--the closure of barely-begun friendships, the return to the dullness of school and home life.
The story arc of souvenirs being traded is handled with real grace. Tubby delivers the final kicker, in a moment that brings his self-absorption and egotism to the fore. It takes the edge off the sadness that permeates these last two stories.
Tubby restores his old world, in full, in the book's inside-back-cover gag page. At the end, we are all reassured by the Dell Pledge to Parents. Remember--this has been a wholesome reading experience!