Ruby and Mummy set off to the supermarket with Ruby’s promise of help. But she is a child who cannot resist throwing the bread in the air, rolling the tins, scrunching the crisps, and squashing her favourite Piggy Cake – in a desperate demonstration of a child’s need for tactile exploration. Ruby’s glee and enthusiasm in helping Mummy is so buoyant it’s hardly surprising that it spills over into blinding rage when she’s denied the Piggy Cake; love of that intensity is overwhelming.
A somewhat scary bunny, erupting from a zigzagging starburst, glares out at you from the cover of this book. But, though intimidating, my four-year-old nephew, adored it and chose it as his favourite. It’s largely to do with the identification a child feels when they need something so badly they’re forced to misbehave, and not only that, how they love to see others playing up. Indeed, the empathy with both characters in the toddler tantrum scenes has the devilish ring of truth. Jill Murphy has been there, and she has the unerring ability to stay child centred, while still addressing a harassed mother’s reactions. Cleverly, even though it’s Ruby who has the tantrum, stiffening herself backwards over the shopping kart and screaming her head off, it is MUM who makes ‘THE BIG MISTAKE’ by giving her offspring the Piggy Cake. Just right.
Great characters in authentic settings are set against light backgrounds in muted yet colourful watercolours, telling the story with wit and understanding. Like all Jill Murphy books, a delight.