By Maureen Tai, 31 March 2018
“Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backgarden, there lived a warrior named ROCK.”
And so begins the story of the genesis of the most elementary and universal of playground games – Rock, Paper, Scissors. While I normally view with disdain and dismay the deployment of “pants” and other such underwear humour in children’s books, the challenge by Scissors to Rock to don his “Battle Pants” has us guffawing with hilarity.
Rock, Paper and Scissors are warriors that inhabit their own realms in a household. Rock is the king of the Backgarden, Paper reigns in Mum’s Study and Scissors is undefeated in the Kitchen. The warriors seek out opponents. They are varied. An apricot in a tree. A half-eaten bag of trail mix. A gang of frozen breaded chicken nuggets. The author has a wild imagination that he unleashes with the same ferocity shown by the three main characters. And all who fight with Rock, Paper and Scissors are vanquished with impunity. But success does not bring contentment or happiness for these three A-type personalities. They yearn not only to meet a worthy opponent, but to savour the agony of defeat.
There is a deep lesson behind the lively pictures and howling battle cries. Perfection is what we should strive for, but perhaps it is better never to attain it, or at least, better never to think that we have attained it. Only when we realise that we are imperfect, when we realise that there is something not yet done, do we continue to have a reason to live. Only then do we continue to seek meaning in life.
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors is deliciously imaginative and wickedly funny. I only wish I had written it.
For ages five and above.