The Long, Long Line by Tomoko Ohmura

Anyone who has been to Disneyland, Universal Studios or, ahem, Singapore will probably be familiar with snaking queues and the (usually self-inflicted) agony of what feels like an endless wait. The Long, Long Line thus parodies this ubiquitous human phenomenon by imagining animals — albeit talking, socialising ones — forming a queue.

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While the reason for this queue is not made immediately clear to us, we are first introduced to ‘#50 Frog’, who is standing last in line, so we know that there are 49 more animals ahead of him. As we move up the queue, we see that the animals seem to be lining up according to size: for instance, #48 is Mouse while #34 is Dog and #24 is Pig, and so on.

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Like people, the animals too behave differently while standing in line, with some waiting blindly, some quietly, some impatiently; some are chatting to their neighbours, some are entertaining themselves with tricks and games — and there’s even the all-too-familiar sight of a child (a joey) whining about the long wait. This being an animal queue, though, the co-mingling of a predator in close proximity to its prey does create some interesting tension between certain pairs of them… Meanwhile, through it all, a chirpy (ha!) bird flying around is the enthusiastic usher who tries to keep everyone upbeat, calm and standing in line.

Finally, after checking off all 50 animals and reaching the front of the line, there’s a sense that the readers, too, have been part of the wait, and share in the animals’ hopeful anticipation that whatever it is they are waiting for is worth the wait — and it is!

So as not to spoil the breathtaking surprise, it suffices to say that everyone has a wet and wild time… And, like amusement-park junkies, they will probably go through the pain of waiting in line just to have the chance to experience it again… Kinda like how my son pestered us to read this whimsical and imaginative book three times in a row ;)

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