Ripe pickings this week from the foyer of my child's nursery school where there are shelves of tempting books for borrowing. Normally in rather a rush, I fail to linger here but absent mindedly arriving on time (before time!) I began to read the nearest one, Claydon was a Clingy Child by Cressida Cowell. Most stuff for children of nursery age is cloyingly sentimental, and weirdly that is what appears to remain in print. Several of my favourite quirky books for pre-schoolers are only available secondhand and that appears to be the case, sadly, here too.
Claydon is a hanger-on. He grips his mother's leg, "It is safer here", he tells his bear. Forthright Bear thinks differently however. Claydon's mother likes sky diving and rugby: her leg is a rather dangerous spot. The humour comes from the play between the bright illustrations of the inevitable disasters and the convoluted and formal attempts of Bear to talk Claydon into a bit of independence, in this case during a sky dive:
" 'Your mother,' he said, as they rushed towards the Earth at a hundred miles an hour ...' while an excellent person in many respects,' he said, as they floated gently down, 'is also - and I mean this nicely -a MANIAC!' "
The four year old and I have enjoyed a good laugh each morning reading this sitting on our stairs before setting off for nursery, where she is in fact less clingy too when I leave. Humour and self-help!
So if you are stuck in a sugary rut of predictable reading for the children or the grandchildren, and are tiring of little bears who love their mummies (which seems to be the publisher's stand-by subject matter for 2-6 year olds) this is perfect.