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Worzel Gummidge - 27.12.2020

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The best childrens books set in the countryside can hint at something deeper and, perhaps, darker at the edges of the narrative. Just around the bend in the path through the woods, or behind the hedgerow on the other side of the field, is something... other, something a little sinister.

An obvious example is Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. Mole and Ratty live a sunny life on the river bank, and in the surrounding fields and lanes, but the Wild Wood is silently and ominously waiting to ensnare the unwary. Alison Utterly paints a perfect picture of four pigs living with Brock the Badger in her series of children's books, but I always worried that if Sam Pig let his guard down Mr Fox was going to eat him. A E Kennedy's marvellous illustrations also added to my childhood unease. Perfectly innocent, there was something very slightly off which enhanced the delicious thrill of reading.

I never read Barbara Euphan Todd's Worzel Gummidge though. I was, of course, fa...

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