In her follow up to 2015’s Toddlers’ Tales, Maureen E Todd provides a collection of 11 poems and short stories that are targeted towards the adult reader instead of offering a shared experience between adult and child. There are no pictures in the book to attract a child to it – other than the colourful cover – and her words and ideas are not always age-appropriate.
In the rhyme, It’s No Good Nathan, Todd writes about the snow, offering advice that children are better to stay inside than to get out and enjoy it. “If you do break a bone, Get up quick and hurry home” she also proclaims, offering dubious medical advice.
In the short story, The Adventures of Sally Spider, we are told with no uncertainty that we should not be afraid of spiders.
Rachel’s Not Afraid of Water Any More is a rhyme about young Rachel learning to overcome her fear of water with the help of her Nana, who now leaves her to swim unattended in the bath.
Cockatiel Poem finds Todd writing to rhyme instead of writing to her target audience: “One day outside my window, Another I espied”, say says, the latter verb being such an old-fashioned, rarely used literary word that even my spell-checker didn’t recognise it. This particular poem continues on to reveal that “Bobby became Barbie” when their presumably male bird began laying eggs. It’s one of the few moments in the book that are entertaining and can encourage dialogue between adult and child.
There’s no connecting theme to the stories that can be discussed at the end of the book, other than, perhaps, the bad advice for children. For the most part, children’s stories are moral tales, which teach kids between right and wrong, to be cautious, or to consider consequences. Think about nursery rhymes such as Humpty Dumpty who fell from a height, or Little Miss Muffet who over-reacts to the appearance of a spider. Despite any historical significance that these stories may also represent, each has a lesson to be taught that is still valid for children today. There is none of that in More Toddlers’ Tales.
At less than 40 pages, More Toddlers’ Tales should be combined with the first book to give the purchase more substance. Meanwhile, Todd’s dubious messaging to children, the lack of any moral lessons, and the absence of opportunities for parents and guardians to open up dialogue with their kids to discuss issues further, all combine to put the “odd” in this Toddlers’ Tales.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 3