Phyllis Root describes Aunt Nancy as the personification of her ‘grandmother and aunts – women who never let the world get the better of them’. She lives in a folk-time rural house with her cat Ezekiel, and speaks in a sassy but mellifluous rural American dialect. The bothersome visitors to the house are like comical but menacing versions of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse: Old Man Trouble, Cousin Lazybones, Old Woeful, and Mister Death himself. Each of these doom-dealers is dealt with politely and ingeniously, Aunt Nancy turning their vices against them in true trickster fashion.
This edition collects four stories previously published separately into a plain but elegant pocket-sized paperback, advertised as one of Walker’s ‘Racing Reads: great stories for confident readers’. It is also a wonderfully concise set of playful sermons on fortitude and humour that should appeal to audiences well beyond the stated target, as well as providing a great resource for reading aloud. David Parkins’ silhouettes represent both the grisly visitors and Aunt Nancy’s resistance to them with appropriate sprightliness.