The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan – Beatrix Potter

More in the Series – The Railway Series
“More in the Series” scores the other books in a series where one (or more) of the books have made it into the 1001 Books list. Mostly because I’m a bit of a completionist. 

POINTS: 1 out of 10.

Bechdel: 1 point
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  0 points
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points.

Well, there’s a good reason this isn’t one of Potter’s better known works. It does pass the Bechdel! Since it’s about two female characters – a cat called Duchess and a dog called Ribby – who have tea. Duchess makes a delicious mouse pie that Ribby doesn’t want to eat because she isn’t fond of mouse, so she concocts a plan to switch it for a veal and ham pie. Hijinks ensue, Ribby ends up eating mouse after all. There is a patty-pan, and some confusion about whether Ribby ate it. It’s all terribly farcical and could be quite funny, except that it is written in very dated language.

C gave it a thumbs down, which I think is only the second book he’s done that for so far. He said, “I just didn’t like it, Mommy.” I couldn’t get more out of him, but I really think that it basically boiled down to the fact that the archaic language meant he didn’t get it. I tried to stop and explain what was happening, but it lost him.

I think, at her best, Potter is pretty timeless, but this one was just weighed down by the language of manners and frippery around the patty pans and so forth. I was very midlly amused, but I think it fails as a children’s book for modern kids. It’s just so far removed from their experience, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing (being exposed to unfamiliar things is one of the joys of reading, after all), in this case there’s not a lot to encourage them to take the trip.

Very meh.

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