“It’s all right to listen, Miss Sugarsprinkles. It’s not at all rude.”
“Are you sure, Mrs Jellywoman?”
“Quite sure, Miss Sugarsprinkles. Please don’t worry.”
“I’ll just wash up the paint-pots, then.”
The children are already a-wriggling and a-giggling. They know what is coming.
“Eddie and the Nappy by Michael Rosen.” I read. “Eddie hates having his nappy done..”
Over by the sink, Miss Sugarsprinkles is quietly washing the paint-pots, a picture of innocence. The children give her sneaky looks as I read on. We’ve been down this road before and they know that it is going to end in the most hilarious way imaginable to a five year old.
“When I’ve cleaned him up
it’s time for the cream.
You have to put cream on a baby’s bum…”
There’s a small gasp from Miss Sugarsprinkles; the children laugh but I read on regardless. Michael Rosen tells us about leaving the jar of cream on the windowsill, where it gets all cold. How Eddie says “no cream” but nevertheless the cream is blobbed on, and Eddie gasps.
“You can imagine what that would feel like
A great blob of cold cream.
It would be like
having an ice-lolly down your pants.”
Miss Sugarsprinkles is shocked to her core and shows it, with a display of horror which would do credit to Frankie Howerd. The children, helpless with laughter, will be putty in my hands from now on.
I’m now on my second copy of Michael Rosen’s book Quick Let’s Get Out of Here, my first having fallen apart utterly. And this one is held together by tape and willpower. The best known poem in the book is Chocolate Cake – and it is, admittedly, a total joy to read aloud – but my favourite poems have always been those about his toddler Eddie. Class after class have giggled through stories of Eddie pulling wallpaper off the wall, Eddie having tantrums on his second birthday, Eddie being carried into bed with his mum and dad and sleeping with his toes in their ears.
The book is illustrated by Quentin Blake, with his characteristic, quirky pen and ink drawings. InfantPhenomenon and I went last week to see an exhibition of Blake’s work. There were lots of examples of his Roald Dahl illustrations, of course, but the ones that moved me most were the pictures of Eddie. Sadly, these were taken from the Sad Book that Michael Rosen wrote after Eddie died suddenly from meningitis, at the age of eighteen.
I can’t begin to imagine how, as a parent, you cope with that. But Michael Rosen’s Eddie poems, with Quentin Blake’s illustrations, remain a thing of joy. After all, what could be funnier than having an ice-lolly down your pants?
This week, the Jelly Chronicles reached the terrible twos, would you believe. If you’ve been following the blog thus far, thanks for keeping me company.