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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Diabolical Mr Tiddles

Author and Illustrator: Tom McLaughlin
Publisher: Simon and Schuster, 2012

This book made my eyebrow ache, as it was arched to one side throughout, trying to guess where the goof-ball story was going next. The Diabolical Mr Tiddles is a delightful story of loyalty, friendship and...the benevolence of Her Royal Majesty the Queen?! Birthday boy Harry gets his dream gift, a cat, whom he comically names Mr Tiddles. Harry lavishes Mr Tiddles with affection, and Mr Tiddles wants to repay the friendship. Initially, as cats do, Mr Tiddles brings Harry and mouse, but after this receives a reaction he wasn't expecting, increasingly exciting and expensive gifts start arriving in Harry's room, but where are they from? 
In a fun twist to the story, it turns out that the rotund, ginger, stripey cat Mr Tiddles, has been on some jaunty night escapades stealing items to fulfil all boyhood dreams; a horse from a cowboy, a pogo stick, rockstar guitars; there's a great picture about half way through the book showing this extensive and growing collection, great fun. 

Tom McLaughin then spins the story upside down again, when Harry follows the perpetrator in this nightly wanderings, ending up face-to-face with the Queen, in her bedroom, of all places! 

When reading this to Bert (5) and Edie (3) in the week, Bert immediately spotted that the queen slept with her crown on her head. Little details in the book, like this, are plentiful- comedy treats abound for eager eyes. I really liked the way the queen was presented, as this austere bossy mother character. The message in the book, you can't by love, nor friendship, and that true friends look out for each other, is sweet, a tiny bit lost on the nearly four year old, but well understood by the five year old I felt. The endnote illustration of the queen is amusing, and the cheekiness and neediness of Tiddles throughout, raises a calamitous beat. A great read for settling trading card fractions in the playground, or more generally to read to preschool and reception children navigating new friendships. 

If you like this, you'll also undoubtedly like 'Love Monster':

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