Raymond Briggs and Elfrida Vipont
When my three small grandsons came to lunch last Sunday, the eldest brought a new book sent to him by friends of his parents.
It was a Puffin picture book called The Elephant and the Bad Baby. The Amazon UK summary reads – "One day, an elephant offers a bad baby a ride through the town, and so begins an adventure and a chase. But when the elephant realizes that the bad baby has forgotten his manners, the chase ends with a bump and tea for everyone."
The book is currently ranking at 1,544 and here's one of the reviews. "My goodness, what a blast from the past. This book was my all-time favourite book. I remember reading with with my dad. Now, I'm a student teacher, and i recommend this book to parents and children everywhere, and i will certainly be reading it to my class."
The story is illustrated by Raymond Briggs whose biography, here, tells us he "was born in 1934 to a milkman father and a mother who had been a lady's maid. He left school at 15 to study painting at Wimbledon School of Art. After a typography class at the Central School of Art and two years of national service he went to the Slade School of Art to study painting. His first work was in advertising but he was soon winning acclaim as a children's book illustrator as well as teaching illustration at Brighton College of Art. Raymond Briggs is one of the foremost creators of illustrated books for adults and children. He has won the Kate Greenaway Medal twice, as well as numerous other awards."
The author was Elfrida Vipont (1902 - 1992), to whom a delightful web page has been put up by Jo Robins and Sue Tredrea.
The page is part of Collecting Books and Magazines, a website based in Australia's Blue Mountains [of which I have happy memories] which has been serving collectors since July 1997.
What worried me about the story was that although it was made clear to the Bad Baby that he must say "Yes, please," not just "Yes", nothing was said about the elephant's habit of taking things from shops without paying for them.
Maybe when Elfrida Vipont wrote the story, shop-lifting was not as widespread as it is today. But no doubt most of the people who read it to their children and grandchildren will stress that taking things from shops is Seriously Bad Behaviour!!
Another comment on a comment
Anne McAllister, whose comment on sex with a stranger I'm answering today, is an American writer I had the pleasure of meeting at a Harlequin Mills & Boon author day held in London in the Nineties.
Her bio tells us, "Anne lives in the Midwest now, though she left her heart in the far west as a child, which explains why even her Caribbean beach bums and New York entrepreneurs are, at the core, cowboy heroes." She calls her husband The Prof.
She starts her comment by asking, "Still stirring up hornet's nests, are you?" This suggests that she sees me as an habitual "stirrer". Not so. Surely anyone with a long overview of the romance genre must feel deeply concerned about where it seems to be heading?
Anne McA goes on, "Like Jenny, I would be far more concerned if Julie's heroine were habitually hopping into closets with strangers. Or ended the book thinking it was a good idea (yes, I know that's a fragment). It all has to do with character development, doesn't it? I, for one, like my characters to have a bit of growing and changing to do. If they're paragons to begin with, why bother?"
Have we really arrived at the stage when a heroine who has never had casual sex is regarded as an unnatural paragon?
How many middle-aged romance writers had casual sex when young, or would wish their daughters/granddaughters to go in for it. So why make their heroines behave in a way that, in their own heart of hearts, they think is unwise and/or wrong. There are plenty of other flaws a heroine can be given.
Of course Anne McA is correct in her comment, "And teenage pregnancies have existed longer than romance novels or, indeed, any kind of books at all."
But must they exist forever? Surely, by now, in advanced societies where reliable birth control methods have been available for decades, accidental babies should almost be a thing of the past?
I gather that, in Julie Cohen's book, birth control is used during the sex-in-a-cupboard scene, but the condom breaks having been in the hero's wallet for too long. I hesitate to do a search for how often condoms break for fear it might result in a deluge of spam from condom sellers but, from what I've read, breakage appears to be extremely rare.
Another comment-on-a-comment tomorrow.