The Very Bad Book – by Andy Griffiths – is a very good book in Sprog 1′s eyes. She thinks all the revolting chapters, like The Dog That Fell Apart, Invasion of the Blood-Sucking Grannies and The Adventures of the Dog Poo Family are totally hilarious.
Her favourite scene in Lord Of The Rings is the one where an orc gets a sword in the eye.
She reckoned A Field Guide to Monsters was “awesome!” (especially when her dad was horrified).
So I thought she was pretty immune to distress from fictional sources.
But a recent trip to the library blew that theory right out of the water.
On a previous visit she’d borrowed a book by Anthony Horowitz and loved it, so we went back to the “H” section of the children’s fiction area and grabbed a few more. One of them was called Burnt. I was slightly disturbed by the cover, which features a drawing of a man screaming, surrounded by flames. But she’s a huge fan of Ripley’s Believe it or Not – which features some pretty confronting images – so I ignored the little, niggling reservation in the back of my mind and added the book to our library bag.
You should never ignore that little, niggling reservation in the back of your mind. You should listen very attentively to it.
Because if you don’t, you might have a hysterical 8-year-old sharing your bed. Like we did.
We eventually coaxed Sprog 1 back into her own bed by allowing her to read one of her sister’s fairy books to promote happy thoughts, despite it being 10pm at night.
Fortunately there were no nightmares. Though I might have a few after skimming the book. It’s about a boy who goes on holidays with his aunt and uncle. His uncle is so desperate to get a tan that he literally cooks himself, with a little help from his wife, who puts cooking oil in his suncream container to bump him off.
The book includes such memorable phrases as …
“He has now managed to burn his lips so badly that they’ve gone black and shrivelled up.”
“His new skin has shrunk and torn so that you can actually see areas of his skull.”
“His whole body was a mass of oozing sores, gashes and poisoned flesh. He no longer had any eyes …”
You get the idea.
Sprog 1 said she was traumatised by the book because it was “too real” and she was upset by “what the wife did to the husband”.
Orcs aren’t real, which means you could slaughter them until the cows come home and it would be funny. Apparently.
But sizzle someone to death on a beach holiday … nuh, don’t go there.
So, if you happen to be in the kids fiction section and see a book called Burnt … don’t go there either.
Borrow a fairy book or something with prancing unicorns and trees made of candy or – if stories about poos and farts make them giggle – get Andy Griffith’s The Very Bad Book. They’ll think it’s a cack.