I Hate Spot

  • I Hate Spot

    Written by Ally D

    ‘Dagain!’ shrieks Little Bear, asking for his fourth reading of Time for Bed, Spot.  

    And I hate the little bugger.  

    Not my son, but Spot, that smiling yellow puppy who steals all enthusiasm from my story-telling voice
    with his saccharin ‘Yes, okay, please, wow, may I?’ dialogue and vacuous plotlines.  

    Spot can’t sleep.   So he plays instead.   By the time his parents notice (and really,
    what parent would not notice their child out of bed with their light on playing
    on a giant stick horse?) he’s fallen asleep, adorable with his toys on the
    floor.   Smiles and hugs all around.   The end.

    That’s not the way things go in our house, and, I suspect, most houses.  

    Little Bear can’t sleep.   So he talks and yells and sings and giggles to his teddy until either a) we come in and re-tuck him or b) we ignore him and he falls asleep upside down in his cot with his teddy or c) his
    chatting descends into a tantrum.   Funny that c) never features in a Spot book.

    The kids books that I love are the ones that read like they’re REAL.  

    Not necessarily tantrums, but the kids aren’t angels and the characters talk like real people, and, ideally, the language and illustrations are interesting rather than pastel-cute.  

    Here’s my list of personal favourites:

    Little Bear series, by Brian Waddell and illustrated by Barbara Firth.  

    These have the most realistic bear/toddler pictures I’ve ever seen, with delightful details like mess on the floor.   The story itself is well told and reminds me of actual conversations with my toddler.  

    For example, toddler says ‘I want to play’ and parent says ‘I have things to do.’   Toddler says ‘I’ll help.’   Toddler two minutes later says ‘I’ve helped, now can we play?’ Parent says ‘Go play.  I’m busy for now.’   Toddler plays.   The parent finishes their housework and sits in an exhausted stupor watching child play.   Toddler invites parent to play.   Parent and toddler play happily.  

    If this was a Spot book, Spot would say ‘Let’s play!’ and the parent would say ‘ok, because this house never needs any work, because we live in Spotland!   Let’s play all day with our multicoloured multi-species friends who just happen to live next door!   And while we’re at it why don’t we bake a cake for daddy together, because baking with toddlers is so quick and easy!   And because we still have time, let’s also make a card and then go to the library and do the groceries, then go to the zoo!’  

    Waddell gets it in a way that Eric Hill just doesn’t.

    Mr Men series, by Roger Hargraves.  

    They have happy little morals to the stories but they also use complex humour and absurdity in very conversational language, along with lovely words like ‘pandemonium’.  
    In Mr Small, for instance, Walter the worm appears for one page and says nothing except ‘Oh’ twice.  

    He is not necessary to the plot but he is amusing.  
    They are fun to read, even on the fiftieth reading, which is just as well, because your toddler will probably love them.

    Green Eggs and Ham, but also The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back; pretty much anything by Dr Seuss.  

    It’s still amusing for both Little Bear and I, and the key thing is that it keeps me concentrating and putting in 100% the whole way through.  

    Cos you can’t do Dr Seuss half-hearted.

    The Tiger who Came to Tea and Mog the Forgetful Cat, by Judith Kerr.  

    These two are lovely little absurd tales that for some reason Little Bear loves, and that I could imagine happening in my house.  
    They also have subtext, which Spot depressingly lacks.

    Hippos Go Beserk, But Not the Hippopotomus, Little Pookie, Tickle Time or anything else by Sandra Boynton.  

    They’re hilarious.   The pics are expressive and Little Bear can read their emotions quite well.  

    Do yourself a favour and borrow a bunch of them.  
    You won’t regret it.

    Meg and Mog series by Helen Nicoll.  

    It was the 1970s, and you can tell.   This stuff is WEIRD but great fun to read, again and again, with fabulous, memorable illustrations by Jan Pienkowski.

    That’s my hit list.  
    What are your sure-fire winners?  
    Share them with us below!

    About the writer

    Ally is a part time mama with a toddler, Little Bear.  She is a part time English teacher, and, somewhere when there's time, a part time wife.  She has cats and chookens and is an affectionate, rather than keen, gardener, due to the aforementioned time restraints.  That is to say, she likes to happily poke at the garden sometimes as she wanders past on an adventure with the little one.  Little Bear likes trains and butterflies.  Ally's husband, Alfonso, is a physicist who also likes trains and butterflies, though he might not admit to the latter.

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