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Mrs Pepperpot Stories

The diminutive Scandinavian star still shines

Almost 50 years after the death of her creator, Mrs Pepperpot continues to beam out from the bookshelves of every decent bookshop. Old ladies don’t usually wake up in the morning to find themselves shrunk to the size of a pepper pot but that’s exactly what happens to our eponymous heroine, shrinking at the most inconvenient moments, and becoming embroiled in various hijinks and escapades along the way. This edition of her classic adventures is the ideal bedtime companion for the 5-8 year olds in your life.

Mrs Pepperpot lives in a valley in Norway. Her days are spent busily cleaning the house and baking. But don’t be fooled by the cheery domesticity, Mrs Pepperpot’s shrinking episodes are invariably exciting and perilous. There’s the time when she finds herself on top of a lit bonfire, alarmed and astride a fizzing firework. A similarly unfortunately timed shrinkage, while babysitting, leaves her grappling with a gigantic rampaging baby. And then the baby finds a box of matches…

Viewing life at ground level seems to give Mrs Pepperpot a real affinity with children and animals, and her stories are filled with both. Happily, she is able to converse with the animals while tiny, and a merry band of woodland creatures join her adventures.

Ingenuity and resilience are applied in every pickle and scrape this feisty little lady finds herself in, and I love the stories’ cosy predictability. A happy ending is always guaranteed, just perfect for sleepyheads at bedtime.

A minor point, but I did find her husband, Mr Pepperpot, rather trying (check out his passive aggressive behaviour in the bilberry jam chapter!) He’s also somewhat chauvinistic. Of course it is the early 1960’s, but I can’t help feeling he hardly deserves the dynamic Mrs P.

A heroine of children’s literature and beloved by generations, I can think of nothing lovelier than sitting in her little house on the hill, enjoying freshly baked cloudberry cake with whipped cream.

Mrs Pepperpot Stories by Alf Proysen and Bjorn Berg (illustrations) is published by Red Fox Books, 464 pages.

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