Monday, 4 May 2015

Children's books: Dandylion

There are some children’s books that capture something. A feeling, a mood, an experience. Dandylion by Lizzie Finlay is one such book that has featured on heavy rotation at bedtimes over the past few years.

Dandylion is a bright, sunny yellow lion. He turns up at school one day, and enters a class of rather conformist children, all busy doing their work neatly and quietly. Dandylion’s arrival disrupts and delights the kids, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with his imaginative games and endless energy. There are descriptions of his penchant for dressing up in rather inappropriate costumes, of playing raucous new games in the playground, and of drawing felt tip moustaches on the faces of his classmates. The latter results in the teacher being so cross she couldn’t look at her class - what we see (but they don’t) is that she’s actually laughing.

There comes a point, though, when Dandylion’s antics go too far, and the class tell him he’s like a weed. Poor Dandylion is devastated and goes home with his tail between his legs. There, he tries to conform, combing his wild mane into pigtails, and having a chat with old Grandpa Clock.

The moral of the story is, obviously, to be yourself, that those who love you will love you for your idiosyncratic ways, not despite them. This message is particularly pertinent to my youngest, T, who defiantly travels to the beat of a different drum (another post on this is brewing in my mind).

In celebration of all things different and wonderful and unique, we had our own Dandylion Day - a chance to draw moustaches on ourselves, to make Dandylion’s packed lunch of choice (extraordinary sandwiches, made from chocolate spread, jelly worms and candy floss), and to read the book for the nth time.

The kids took it upon themselves to make a museum by putting all their cuddly toys into every glass jar, vase and vessel in the house. That’s the kind of creativity that can only be a good thing. Slightly weird and macabre, yes, but I'd prefer that to uninspired.

For more children’s literature, have a look at this top five tear-jerkers.
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