PAGE 5 of Meg and Mog Play Hide and Seek says: “Meg, Mog and Owl play hide and seek in a castle.”
There is a picture of Meg on a broomstick (Meg’s a witch) and a cow and a rooster and a little house.
It’s a children’s book. An early reader.
Publishers of early readers have failed to grasp a simple truth: three-year-olds like my granddaughter have memories like a Venus flytrap.
They memorise early readers from the title to the words at the end that say; The End; including the page with the copyright details and the bit that says: “no portion of this work may be reproduced without permission etc.”
What you really need for a three-year-old is a medical dictionary, or a telephone directory. Even so, they’d probably stop you just after midnight and make you go back a page because you’d missed out meningitis.
But three-year-olds do need pictures. They need pictures so they can say: “You didn’t point to the bat.”
And you say: “But you can see the bat; you don’t need me to point to it.”
“But you have to point to the bat and say: ‘Look there’s the bat flying along with Meg.’ That’s how the story goes.”
“Yes, but I thought I’d have a change tonight.”
You think old people hate change? Talk to a three-year-old.
For the past three months I’ve read Meg and Mog every night. Sometimes twice. Sometimes in my sleep. There are evenings when I’ve tried to cheat. When my eyes are heavy with tedium and I know I won’t make it to: “and they lived happily ever after. The End.” and I’ve surreptitiously turned two pages at once.
“Stop! You turned to two pages at once.”
“How did you know?’
“Because on the next page it should say: ‘Meg makes mouse jelly’.”
It’s a worry. I don’t worry about her. I worry about the people she’s going to meet on life’s rutted highway.
Except that she won’t exactly ‘meet’ them. She’ll operate them. She’ll be a corporate lawyer who memorises the entire legal code of Australia and she’ll write contracts that start “Once upon a time…” and end with “… and they all lived happily ever after.” (which will be a novel idea, for a lawyer).
And in between she’ll have somehow acquired the global rights to your body parts.
Her husband won’t have a chance. She’ll telephone him at work to remind him to buy some milk and after they’ve hung up she’ll ring back and say: “You didn’t tell me you love me.”
“But there’s lots of people here; and anyway, you know that.”
“But it’s part of the story; you have to.”
“I love you,” he’ll whisper.
“Very much. You have to say, ‘very much’.”
“Yes, very much.”
“No portion of this work may be reproduced without permission…”
“Oh nothing… just something from my childhood.”
And, like with Meg and Mog, she’ll never grow tired of hearing the same story.
Maybe that’s my problem. I was over Meg and Mog in five days. I am so over Meg and Mog a medical dictionary would make a nice change.
But my granddaughter remains enchanted. She still sees the magic in it.
In a fictitious character. In a witch, for heaven’s sake. In a book!
It can’t really be magic.