Everyone loves a happy ending, don’t they? Well, no, not really. Some of us – no doubt those who suckle at the bountiful teat of schadenfreude – quite enjoy a bit of calamity and emotional turmoil descending on the heads of otherwise loveable characters. But how to introduce such universal themes to children? Fear not my dears, for I have a range of books to fulfil this very need! Oldies, but goodies, admittedly, but perhaps some that you have not encountered before, and can therefore add to your arsenal of go-to books for times of “wanting to glory in the misfortunes of others”…..
Firstly, the delightful Sandra Boynton brings us a modern day tale of exclusion with her painfully honest But Not The Hippopotamus. The happenings in this one will be familiar to anyone who’s ever wanted to be part of the in-crowd, and anyone who’s ever managed it and then thanked their lucky stars they weren’t left on the shelf (figuratively speaking of course. Shelves are fine places to be left, in my line of work.)
Next is the oft-told (or rather, oft-hoped-for!) classic story involving the underdog getting one over on the annoyingly bossy boss-person. Little Bunny Foo Foo: The Real Story by Cori Doerrfeld is apparently a take on a traditional funny children’s song that I was not exposed to until a few days ago. While this lack of exposure is, in itself, outrageous, the events unfolding in this cheerful little jaunt provide a modern cautionary tale for bossy-boots and dibber-dobbers everywhere, in the form of a sweet little ditty that can be sung at will (preferably with actions). Thus it is suitable for even the smallest student of subversion!
In a slightly less cheerful vein (for rabbits, anyway) is the wonderful Wolves by the ever-popular Emily Gravett. This book follows a studious little rabbit as he navigates the world of wolfkind through a borrowed library book. While this book will no doubt put fear of wolves (and indeed, library borrowing) into little rabbits forever after, it also provides a simple, and age-appropriate introduction to difficult scientific concepts….such as the food chain.
Last but not least is the classic Not Now, Bernard by David McKee. The schadenfreude of this offering is less for the tots and more for the parents, as Bernard (he of the title) is eaten by a monster and his parents don’t notice. Who amongst you flesh-parents does not enjoy a little judgemental rant now and again at the expense of lesser parents? If you have not come across this book before, it is worth seeking it out for its chillingly prescient take on modern society…or just for the fun of jumping on the self-righteousness bandwagon.
I hope these titles are helpful in assisting you to educate your little minions of future sedition.
Until next time,