Rats, raccoons, spirally pasta princesses and The Ass. (That’s not rude, btw.) That’s what we have to offer today. Picture books have been read, and let me tell you how shocked we are.
It seems crime is in. And by that I don’t mean crime as a genre, which I wholeheartedly approve of. No, young readers are to be taught to misbehave. To steal, to be bad.
Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler have a bad – if nicely rhyming – criminal rat. A fat rat. The Highway Rat. He steals things off nice people. He’s not nice at all. But luckily he gets his come-uppance in the end.
Raccoons are no better. In Hannah Shaw’s School for Bandits Mr and Mrs Raccoon are concerned for their useless son. Ralph Raccoon is quite nice, which is so not on, and they send him to Bandit School. That’s not very nice for Ralph. Then he accidentally wins the Best Bandit competition, and he gets an opportunity to show his hooligan classmates how to do it.
In You Can’t Scare a Princess by Gillian Rogerson and Sarah McIntyre we have pirates. They need to be taught a lesson, too, and who better than Princess Spaghetti? (Personally I think she looks more like Princess Spiralli Pasta, but what do I know?) So much badness. And then you think the Princess has sorted those awful pirates, when in actual fact they only have more and better crime on their minds.
So thank goodness for The Lion, the Unicorn and Me by Jeanette Winterson and Rosalind MacCurrach. It features an ass with not just a heart of gold, but a nose as well.
You think you’ve read all the Christmas stories. They are all variations on the same theme and how many can there be? Well, this was a new one to me, although I see it’s been around a few years. I read it from a sense of duty to begin with, but found pretty soon that I loved it. It’s beautiful, and would be a good book to read with a young friend when Christmas comes.
Which it will do far too soon.
I always did have a soft spot for donkeys, though.