Friday, November 8, 2019

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 8th November 2019: "Worzel Gummidge" by Barbara Euphan Todd (OUP / Oxford Children's Books)

Our Chapter Book of the Week reminds me of a little boy who was properly obsessed with this character as a little kid. He would dress up in scruffy clothes, cover his face in dirt, and stop to stand, arms outstretched, at every single farm or field gate whenever we were out on a walk.

My little brother will be overjoyed to see a whole new edition of "Worzel Gummidge" by Barbara Euphan Todd, with new illustrations by Peter Cottrill.

My bro was obsessed with the Jon Pertwee series, and collected just about all the books, annuals and merchandise that sprang up from that show.

Now with a new TV series (starring Mackenzie Crook, inspired casting if ever we've seen it), old Worzel's about to fascinate (and possibly terrify) a whole new generation of kids.

But let's dip into Barbara's amazing book - coming from an era when kids still loved to play outdoors, largely unsupervised - and the thought of befriending an animated character made out of mangelworzels and straw wouldn't seem at all sinister.

Barbara's gentle first novel acts as introduction and initial adventure for John, Susan and Worzel as they spend an idyllic summer at Scatterbrook Farm. You can almost feel the bittersweet innocence and melancholy coming from every page.

Many books followed, and I'm hoping that these all get an outing too - harking back to a period of history that is rapidly becoming lost, as Worzel embarks on adventures at the circus, or in the novels where he first discovers Aunt Sally at the village fair, or Saucy Nancy, the figurehead of a lost treasure ship.

Brilliantly written, beautifully gentle and hopefully a fantastic precursor to an awesome new TV show. Welcome back Worzel, it's great to see your return!

Sum this book up a sentence: A whimsical and brilliant slice of childhood back to dazzle a whole new generation of fans.

"Worzel Gummidge" by Barbara Euphan Todd and Peter Cottrill is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books (kindly supplied for review).