The Elephant and the Bad Baby – Elfrida Vipont

POINTS: 3 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points. Good stuff all round
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point

The Elephant and the Bad Baby is a great little tale, actually, despite its low score. It’s fun to read (“rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta”…) and has that great repetitive, building up thing that so many great children’s books have.

It might almost pass the Bechdel on a technicality (the baby’s mummy talks to all the people who chased him and the elephant home, one of which is a woman), but a: the ‘lady from the sweet shop’ is unnamed, and b: I can’t really justify it when out of all the characters who follow them home, only one is a woman. So I haven’t given it the point.

There is no diversity in the characters, and definitely nothing particularly feminist about the story. But it does have a good message about saying please! So that’s something. And I’m always a bit fond of stories in which children are naughty and their parents still love them. Being as that’s something I try hard to instill into my child – that even when I’m spitting mad at him, I still love him. So I’ve given it one discretionary point.

Like I said above, it is a lot of fun to read, and C thoroughly enjoyed it, despite being quite judgy (“Mommy, they’re a bit naughty, aren’t they?”). Briggs’ illustrations are charming, albeit quite BRITISH in a very old school way (it was first published in 1969, after all), and it is quite delightful to read.

The bad baby is not so bad really (he is definitely led astray by a kleptomaniac elephant) and remembers to say please once reminded. There is an awesome pancake wielding mummy (maternal figure, not Egyptian monster). It’s good fun.

Also, I totally have a weakness for elephants, so there’s that. 😉

What do you think? Do you also get joy from the “rumpeta rumpeta”? What are your favourite books to read aloud?

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