Saturday, 7 January 2012

Tears, tantrums and making girls do stuff because Jacqueline Wilson says it's good.

I have left the blog sadly neglected this week, as the shock to the system brought about by having to get dressed before 10am again was as much as I could cope with, when coupled with the tasks necessary to hold body and soul together. Obviously I still managed to play Plants vs Zombies quite a lot and drink many large cups of tea. But stringing sentences together at work left me unable to do so at home.

I have cried twice at books this week. Once was at War Horse by Michael Morporgo. Luckily I managed to get through reading the really sad bit to my class before the tears started. I, in fact, only cried because one of the girls cried. It was really an act of solidarity and empathy for her.

The second crying session could probably have been relatively easily avoided. Common sense dictates that if your Mum is dead, and it was the anniversary of her death this week, then you probably shouldn't pick up and read a book called Missing Mummy, (by Rebecca Cobb) aimed at bereaved children, when choosing childrens' books in the library. Not only was I then crying for my missing Mummy; I was also crying for all the poor children the book was written for, and crying for that deep dark worry that lurks in the heart of any person who has ever had children: what if I die before they grow up? So all in all, it was a pretty poor choice. It was a lovely book though; really simply drawn and unpatronising. It wasn't as sad as Michael Rosen's Sad Book which A turns the wrong way round on her shelf because just seeing the actual book makes her cry. But it was aimed at a younger audience, which is pretty heart-breaking when you think about it. So don't.

Anyway, now I've thoroughly depressed everybody, we'll move on to the tantrums. We got Jim by Hilaire Belloc, illustrated by Mini Grey from the library last week. I thought Grey was unlucky not to win the Kate Greenaway medal last year for this brilliant representation of Belloc's cautionary tale. The illustrations are marvellous and the paper engineering is fun, and really adds to the whole reading experience. A and I particularly liked the page with the slices of delicious ham, and chocolate with pink inside. This is no great surprise since when A was two, she used to go to sleep staring at the food pages from You Choose by Nick Sharratt.

C would have absolutely LOVED this story. However, he was having a great stonker of a tantrum at the time I read it, about Moshi Monsters or similar. Usually a book will bring him out of a tantrum, but this time he seemed utterly enraged by the book. He was particularly cross that "Ponto is a rubbish name for a lion" and declared that Jim was "the most rubbishest book EVER". I don't think this was a particularly well-thought out critique. It's a great picture book for older kids. Not for the over-sensitive of any age though, I would suggest, due to the quite graphic pictures of the lion eating our eponymous anti-hero.

A's obsession with Jacqueline Wilson is growing by the day. Today she had her nose stuck in several of her books, including a poetry anthology chosen by her called Green Glass Beads. This is simply a collection of poems that Wilson likes, and thinks that her readers might like. And A happily reads them. The same poems might well be declared boring if they were in one of my books. But Jackie likes them so they must be good. And to be fair, lots of them are, and there's a good blend of the classic and the more modern.

What I would like to know is when is Jacqueline Wilson going to publish a series of books called Why Learning Times Tables is Really Great, Doing Your Piano Practice Really Pays Off in the Long Run! and Instead of Leaving Dirty Clothes Strewn All Over the Floor, You Could Put Them in the Wash! I live in hope.

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