So daddy came home at the beginning of last month with a spring (s’cuse the pun) in his step, said to the kids: “Look what I’ve got!” and plonked a posh paper bag down on the kitchen table in anticipation of their adoration. They peered in. A paper bag with handles might be the bakershop norm’ these days in the leafy sub-shires of Dulwich and Clapham but for us lot in Penge the only thing that comes in a sturdy bag with a gusset are re-heeled shoes from the cobbler. Their indignant response to four expensive hot cross buns was gratifying. “But, it’s not Good Friday..” warned Trasha. Ah, I have trained them well. As far as my children are aware, it is actually illegal to eat one before Easter. “I’ll put them in the freezer then..?” their dad suggested with rhetorical glumness before getting his coat.
I will soon however, be ‘breaking the law’ and taking a bag of hot cross buns across the channel before the Easter bunny has zipped up his fly as a gift for our neighbours in Normandy. As I am customarily stopped by customs on both sides – my resemblance to an international terrorist being undeniable – I am looking forward to the baffled expressions of the gendarmes when they strip the car only to find weird cinnamon rolls. But how marvelous to be in France at this time of year, eh?
A Walk in Paris
by Mini Grey
This author gets better and better at the art of combining accessible text with action in pictures; from a tiny snow-globe of the Eiffel Tower and discarded Sherlock Holmes novel to thundering headlines, there is so much to look at. Armed with an old fashioned typewriter (see FamiliesSE passim – didn’t I say these would be all the rage?) the detail is delightful as our diminutive detective sets about tracking down lost teddies and keys and personal fortunes (as you do). Sadly, our hero’s success in rescuing a small child doesn’t give him immunity from anti-mouse prejudice as the party thrown in his honour results in guests shrieking and standing on their chairs, and I found myself yelling at the page: “It’s a mouse you nutcases, not Bin Laden!”
Shh! We Have a Plan
by Chris Haughton
That shush wasn’t next-door telling me to pipe down (though they’d be perfectly justified in shushing their heads off after Trasha had her coven round for a sleepover last weekend – talk about earsplitting noise, that lot could cackle for England – apologies to all at number 18), it is the divinely talented author of A Bit Lost and Oh No, George! Rightfully elbowing his way to the front of the children’s section, this is his best yet: simple, original, very blue (literally, not linguistically, I hasten to add) and hilarious. No, HILARIOUS! With a quote from Einstein at the start – ‘Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding’ – every single school in the country should have a copy. I shall get onto Gove pronto.
Troll and the Oliver
The third troll title sees our voracious mythical monster chasing his trickiest dinner yet – the infuriatingly joyful Oliver. Or is that innate happiness really cunning in disguise? But, yikes! A slip-up! However, all is not lost when troll discovers to his cost that small boys taste absolutely disgusting (as Trasha can testify) and better still, he regurgitates his prey just as the timer goes off on an oven full of cakes
Sarah & Duck Meet the Penguins
by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
What an entirely apt title for a board book. With bucketloads of ripping, shredding, scraping, crashing, gauging and clanging – if you can’t beat the toddlers, join ‘em.
This is Me, Eating!
I Didn’t Do My Homework Because…
Far From the Tree
Hundreds of families interviewed and their stories remain in the mind long after I put this veritable brick down. It is a far too big and important book to suffer my bargain basement critique and I’m not going to tell you how many pages there are because it will frighten you off. And there’s no way I can claim to have made it through the whole thing. Suffice it to say, every page I have read contains a revelation and though I’ve parented (if I must use that ghastly Americanism) for a gasquillion years, I realize that I know absolutely nothing.
The Smart Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want
by Mary Hartley