I distinctly recall being read to by Miss. Grimdyke in my primary school years. She always wore a dress that looked like a floral tablecloth and, since she had a body like a coat stand, hung on her like one too. Her hair was grey, wispy and coiled into a tight bun. She had the predatory gaze of a vulture and always smiled whenever a parent or another teacher set foot in the classroom. But to us sweet innocent babes she was a gargoyle of ghastliness.
Then one half-term she announced she would be reading a new book with the most unlikely-sounding title that mixed zoo animals with bedroom furniture. None of us innocent younglings had any idea what was about to be unleashed on us, but we all found little problem in identifying with the abandoned waifs who were the stars of the story. Myself, I felt a close kinship with Edmund, the poor misunderstood child.
Anyway, to the point.
A group of children run riot in an elderly relative’s house. One of them finds a way into a winter fantasy world. She meets a fascinating half-goat person who feeds her crumpets. One’s own favourite image of the whole tedious book is of this delightful sounding individual and his umbrella. The other children inevitably follow. After much tomfoolery, a lion who acts more like a house cat is tied up and killed. For some reason, this changes things. The children become monarchs then wake up and find it was all a dream.
I didn’t really get the point of it all and felt the old good versus evil theme was completely overplayed.
A nice enough story for a seven-year-old, perhaps – except the killing of the lion bit.
Two stars for nostalgia.