Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf – Catherine Storr

I read a lot. So much that I have admitted defeat in trying to review everything I’ve read (or even just the ones I’ve liked) and have even, very occasionally, left books unfinished. Which is, as far as I can see, a rather passive-agressive way of saying I didn’t enjoy a title. And I try to read all kinds of books – fiction (literary, chick-lit, crime, sci-fi and lots of dystopias), non-fiction (mostly history, science and travel writing) and children’s. And sometimes the kids stories are the ones which give the most pleasure.

clever pollyClever Polly and the Stupid Wolf, first published in 1955, seems to me to be everything you’d want a collection of stories for 5-8 year olds to be. They are funny, deceptively simple and, sometimes, they have a gentle moral message. And they also look to have dated fairly well – although children are not left alone in the house these days it is the kind of exciting fantasy situation which kids seem to enjoy – but their slightly old-fashioned nature means they will appeal to grandparents as well as the younger generation. I managed to devour this book (rather wolfishly) in a 45 minute break but I expect it could keep a young child engaged for quite a while. Choosing your favourite story could take a while each night at bedtime – mine is the zoo one I think. Or possibly when the wolf thought he was invisible. Oh, they’re all good!

Many of the stories are based on the wolf’s interpretation of popular fairy tales involving wolves (Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs and the Wolf and the Seven Little Kids) but he proves that he hasn’t learnt much from his study of literature. So you can add feeling superior to the wolf to the list of benefits a child could get from this book…

When my nieces were very small I used to tell them stories I had made up about a little girl called Baby Katy. I can still remember the whole of When Baby Katy Wouldn’t Eat Her Vegetables and When Baby Katy Wouldn’t Change Her Socks (and I bet my nieces do too). If I’d had a copy of the Clever Polly stories available I wouldn’t need to have made them up!



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