Kid’s books that kill

Book review – It Zwibble and the Greatest Cleanup Ever!

Published 1991 (Yes, it’s that old. I bought it for 15 cents at the op shop)


It’s not often that I come across a children’s book so bizarre and poorly written that it merits attention. It is a Scholastic publication, by the way. Not some random self-published pile of gibberish.

My first inkling of what might be to come was the title. “It Zwibble and the Greatest Cleanup Ever!”. Besides having possibly the worst and most clumsy name ever for a lead character, I always get suspicious about books that need exclamation points in the title. Don’t hold my excitement to ransom, please.

The book launches straight into an introduction to the main character It Zwibble – a “magical dinosaur fairy” – some “forest friends” whose names don’t even rate a mention and “a lot of star-tailed dinosaurs called the Zwibble Dibbles”. The illustration shows them all seated around a big table, eating a stack of gravity-defying pancakes. There is a picture of a rat with salt and pepper shakers for eyeglasses. None of this is explained in the text.

It cuts to a non-plot related scene of the Zwibble Dibble family on the roof of the mill (huh, what mill?) watching for falling stars, followed by another non-plot related scene of a character called Fred the Moose singing tender lullabies to the Zwibble Dibble babies. It confuses and creeps me out.

Still following?

Launching from one non sequitur to the next seems to be this book’s modus operandi because the next page introduces “Tu the Toucan” and “Craighead the sceptical Shrew”, who are looking at the plans for a non-polluting dream car. I’m starting to wonder if this book is the Pulp Fiction of children’s literature, exception being that it’s not any good.

Craighead the Shrew.

Yes, the authors have a character called Craighead. I am seriously starting to wonder if the authors are crack heads. I’m not entirely sure, but I think that Craighead is the rat with the salt and pepper shakers for eyes. As I read aloud to my son I note with weary resignation that we still have another 26 pages of this incomprehensible bollocks to plough through.

Just when you think things can’t get any more crazy we get to meet old Grampa Cobb (some sort of beaver?) rockin’ it Deliverance-style on the back porch with his ol’ timer stories about something called “Sycamore and Pond”, which turns out to be a pond. Still not sure about the sycamore part. The pond was filled with bright, clean water.

This fact will be relevant to your understanding of the rest of the plot, which is essentially that this motley crew of nonsensical characters go to a once pristine lake which is now filled with rubbish. At their dismay upon reaching the polluted lake they decide to undertake the “biggest cleanup ever!” promised by the title. They collect 864 bags of rubbish, dispose of some, compost some, recycle some and use the remainder to make the non-polluting dream car that Tu the Toucan was drawing.

Then they go swimming in the clean lake.

I swear to god, this shit could have been written at half the length and twice the efficacy without all the bizarre tangents and irrelevant viewpoint characters with ridiculous names. I note with great satisfaction that it only had one print run.


5 of out 5 wheelie bins. I wish I could throw this book out more than once.

5 thoughts on “Kid’s books that kill

  1. Bahahahahahaha! That awful moment when you choose a book, start it only to realise how awful it is and then have to read until the end. Loved this one, Zilla!

  2. I was once allowed to buy a book from bookclub, I remember it as it only happened once. I chose It Zwibble (I was in year 1) it was a different It Zibble to yours (look out for other great titles in the series). Mum was sceptical of my choice, it was expensive. I never got to buy from book club again. 😦

    Also I am going to dispute the greatest cleanup ever title. I think that belongs to me tonight. Lara crapped in the bath. With all of her toys in there. She had corn for lunch, and curried dahl. Curried Dahl again for dinner (clearly I’m a glutton for punishment as my almost 1 yo was fed the same).

  3. This is the book I’ve been trying to locate for months now and found it thanks to your review. This was my childhood favorite…I’m pretty sure it set me on my personal quest to “clean up” the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s