Carl Marks, the bearded half of high-street philosophers Marks and Spencer,
once likened reading to your child to ‘throwing acorns at a scarecrow’.
Who knows what he meant, but throwing acorns at a scarecrow is the epitomy
of a great day out in the Daddington household, so I can only presume that Carl was endorsing
it wholeheartedly. And who’s to argue with the great Carl Marks? Not me.
So, with those wise words ringing around my girdled-brainbush,
here are 5 great acorns to throw at your little scarecrows.
Again! (by John Prater)
Plot: Heavy irony. In a handy pocket-sized volume.
Ahhhh. Is there anything sweeter than when a toddler, having just finished a favoured activity, repeats the word ‘Again’ over and over, at increasing volume, until you give in and repeat said activity? Then upon completion, that sweet utterance springs forth once more. “Again! Again! Again!” And off you go again, like the diligent man-slave you are. Well, when the activity in question is reading ‘Again!’ (part of the mini treasures series from Red Fox – very handy for holiday reading/torture) then your cyclical existence takes on a delightful irony, that will either lead you to a higher plain or an early grave. Pocket-sized though, so there is a silver lining.
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly (illustrated by Pat Adams)
Plot: Due to extensive NHS cuts, an old lady takes matters into her own hands.
After swallowing the fly, the old lady tried to get an appointment with her local GP, but he was too busy managing local healthcare budgets to actually dispense care or advice. The spider made not a jot of difference, other than taking the edge off the hunger she’d been feeling since the Tory government had delayed her pension for another 2 years,
forcing her back into relative poverty.
After eating her neighbours cat, she felt distinctly unwell and decided it was probably time for a trip to hospital. But no! The Tories had just closed down her local A+E, leaving her a good 120 miles from the nearest emergency services. The local dial-a-ride had been abolished (along with the library and community centre) after the recent council cuts. What was she going to do?! “I wonder if I can get medical help at that Tescos that’s thriving up the road from where the high street used to be?
Hmmm. Probably not”.
In desperation, she jumped on her dog, rode it until she found a cow. Rode that until she found a horse…and rode the old nag until it collapsed from exhaustion. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, hungry and alone, she was forced to eat the horse. Which, it turned out, was actually 90% beef, the one meat she was allergic to. She died. But hey, at least we’re cutting the deficit.
Oh, wait. We’re not, are we.
La Surprise (by Janik Coat)
Plot: “Honey…we’re going to need a bigger litter tray!”
This beautifully simple, wordless kids book would make the ideal present for a 3yr old whose world you’re about to ruin by gifting them a younger sibling. In delightfully simple, and strangely calming, graphic form, it tells a tale of tranquility, new arrivals and serene co-existence. Quiet and harmonious, it’s everything your house will never be once that second noise-box arrives.
Not Now Bernard (by David McKee)
Plot: A step-by-step guide to getting your child taken into protective custody
Published in 1980 (before every children’s book had to contain a heart-warming and politically correct narrative about chasing stars or befriending animals…and research found that severe neglect can cause permanent psychological damage) Not Now Bernard is the tale of one boys attempt to get his parent’s attention. He fails…and gets eaten by a monster, who in turn, fails to get Bernard’s parent’s attention. Great illustrations and a slightly confusing moral undertone (neglect child, child becomes monster. Neglect monster, monster goes to bed quietly. Uh?) makes this far more interesting (for narrators at least) than a lot of the crap out there.
Pants (by Giles Andreae + Nick Sharratt)
Plot: Hmmm. Not an extensive one, that’s for sure. In fact the title pretty much says it all.
I was stuck for a short while, trying to work out what can be said about this little beaut, beyond describing the vibrant illustrations and catchy rhyme that run throughout. Then it hit me! Whammy! Like a literary wedgy. It’s a subtle, underwear-based metaphor for embracing the myriad of different creeds, colours, shapes, sizes and sexualities that grace this doomed little planet of ours.
‘What a lot of lovely pants there are!’
How better to introduce your youngun to the joys of liberty, acceptance and equality for all, than through the medium of pant-rhyme. (Ironic then that the quote on the back ‘Hilariously funny for any pre-schooler’ comes from The Daily Mail….our gnarled bastion of ignorance and prejudice)
Let’s Dad! urges you NOT to buy your books from amazon…until they start paying UK corporation tax.
There are hundreds of independent bookshops out there that offer fine collections of kids books and great levels of service.
Failing that, charity shops are often choca with classic children’s books.
Basically, do anything, even write your own, before feeding the devil that is amazon.
If shopping online is your only option, try The Book Depository, who are often cheaper than amazon and offer free delivery…and they’re a registered UK company paying their share of tax.