The Sad and Sorry Saga of Sir Jeffrey Hillpig-Smythe
By Steve Rhodes
28 pages, in Thai and English, colour illustrations
Reviewed by Reg Comstock
MANY children’s books are a blend of fact and fiction, as is this imaginative tale of a mysterious British soldier in World War II with the improbable name of Sir Jeffrey Hillpig-Smythe, who wanders off into the jungles of Burma and Thailand.
Of course, there are many examples of foreigners succumbing to the temptation to lose themselves in Southeast Asia, perhaps the most famous being Jim Thompson, who helped resurrect the Thai silk industry before disappearing into the jungles of Malaysia while on holiday in 1967.
Such disappearances usually result in a veritable cottage industry of conspiracy theories, unconfirmed sightings, and attempts to reconstruct movements and motivations, and that is the case in this book as well.
But there is much more to this charmingly illustrated volume than just the mysterious disappearance of a wayward soldier. There are also moral lessons in conservation, respect for fellow man, resisting oppression, the value of persistence, and the innocent faith of a child.
All in all an entertaining read and an excellent Christmas gift for children aged 7-15, be they Thai or English speakers, though adults will also likely find it amusing.
The cover of Steve Rhodes’ children’s book that adults too might enjoy reading.
Update: The publication of this book has been delayed for a few weeks. Readers will be informed when it hits the shelves.