I’m still on a quest to introduce fils aîné to chapter books that he can read for himself later on and browsing about on the web, I was reminded of the Polly and the Wolf stories by Catherine Storr – books I used to read as a child. It is one of the books brought out by publisher Jane Nissen Books, whose tagline is “Bringing Classic Children’s Books Back Into Print”. Jane Nissen is a former associate publisher at Penguin Children’s, who says:
“The purpose of this personal venture is to bring back into print some of the best-loved children’s books of the 20th century and to enable a new generation of readers to discover for themselves high-quality, timeless titles that should not be lost.”
Each of their books has an introduction from a well-known contemporary author and features the original illustrations. I first came across them when writing about Fattipuffs and Thinifers last year and several of them found their way onto FA‘s Christmas list.
To get back to Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf, it’s a collection of twelve stories about a girl named Polly who always outsmarts the Wolf who wants to eat her. Originally written for the author’s own daughter, who was scared of the wolf under her bed, and published in 1955, the stories blend reality and fantasy in a very entertaining way and draw a lot on classic fairytales. I’d quite forgotten how funny they are, although a lot of the jokes go rather over FA‘s head at the moment. Polly is a very resourceful and cheerful little girl and, despite the 1950s attitudes towards cooking and housework coming through, she is feisty and confident enough for any 21st century child to identify with.
One day the front foor bell rang and Polly went to open the door. And there was a great black wolf who said he had come to eat her up. He was quite surprised when Polly said that she didn’t want to be eaten.
“Oh yes,” said the wolf, “I am going to eat you. But first tell me, what is that delicious smell?”
“Come down to the kitchen,” said Polly, “and I will show you.”
She led the wolf down to the kitchen. There on the table was a delicious-looking pie.
“Have a slice?” said Polly.
“Now,” said Polly, after the third helping, “what about me?”
“Sorry,” said the wolf, “I’m too full of pie. I’ll come back another day to deal with you.”
I’ve really enjoyed reading these stories to FA and he’s enjoyed them too. I just hope that by the time he’s up to reading them for himself he won’t be put off by them being about a girl. At the moment, he’s moved on to Horrid Henry with Daddy, but I hope we’ll come back to these again and again. They definitely bear re-reading and the vocabulary is quite advanced, which I like – no dumbing down. A lot of fun and highly recommended.