Ah, the perils of vanity… The dapper donkey at the centre of this story is so busy looking at himself in mirrors and shop windows that he fails to see what’s in front of him – including potential disaster.
It all starts off well enough, with Sir Andrew singing happily in his shower, smartening himself up by blow-drying his mane and tail, and shining his hooves. But even at this stage he is so busy checking his reflection in the mirror that he fails to notice his cat eating the goldfish and licking its paws in a satisfied way afterwards.
Even getting his hat on just right causes Sir Andrew anxiety. Should he wear it on top of his ears, between his ears, or with his ears tied up underneath? Luckily – or maybe unluckily – he hits on a novel solution and heads out into the street.
But once again he is attracted by his own reflection and is so involved in gazing at himself that he fails to notice an open hatch directly in his path – and crashes down the steps inside.
Fortunately for Sir Andrew an ambulance is on hand quickly to take him to hospital, where he gradually recovers.
With his foot in plaster and carrying a crutch, Sir Andrew heads out onto the street once more. But as he does so a gust of wind blows his precious hat off his head and sends it out in front of the cars.
More concerned for his hat than his safety, Sir Andrew rushes after it. Cars quickly brake and one runs into another. Next Sir Andrew crashes into a bin, which tips over and catches a rubbish bin – which in turn causes a sign-painting pig to tumble over and spill his paint.
After all this chaos, you’d think the vain donkey would have learnt his lesson. But no, another disaster is looming on the horizon as he begins to gaze at himself in a shop window once more – and fails to see a banana skin lurking just beneath his foot.
This is such a funny and well plotted little book. The moral about the dangers of vanity is serious and clear, but the illustrations – prepared as black line-drawings with half tone overlays for black, blue and gold – make their point in such a witty, clever way that it never seems ‘preachy’. Each spread is so packed with detail that it rewards close looking at. Look out for the towels decorated with Andrew’s initial, the men’s fashion magazine in the rack, and the portrait of himself over the bed. This is a picturebook that appears effortless and simple, but is actually a work of comic genius.
See also Paula Winter’s The Bear & the Fly.