We Are Wearing Out The Naughty Step by Mick Inkpen

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We Are Wearing Out The Naughty Step by Mick Inkpen

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A group of naughty children bring their mother to the end of her tether. If you get past your gut reaction that it might not be appropriate for young children, you'll discover an interesting, real and fun tale that's entirely appropriate.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0340959985

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Three young children do all the naughty things that children do, and are wearing out the naughty step. Their single (ish) mother is exasperated and frustrated. When she finally snaps, it coincides with baby Jimbo's first word, and everyone laughs.

I really wasn't sure what I made of We Are Wearing Out The Naughty Step when I first read it - and I imagine you're having similar doubts after reading the precis. On the face of it, it's a little more serious than your average picture book. I don't much like the idea of naughty steps in general (more often than not they're not about teaching right and wrong, but about punishing attempts to learn what's right and wrong). At first glance, protecting the youngest children from the idea that mummies get tired and stressed seems like a good thing to me. It's Mick Inkpen, so it's all done very well, but I wasn't sure if it was really umm... worth it.

Re-reading it just prior to wriging this review, I was a total convert. It's real, rather than worrying. It's funny and charming, as Mick Inkpen's work always is - and, of course, his illustrations are fantastic. The naughty step is just a minor plot device, rather than a call to punish all children. I was reading far too much into it and being too uptight. It's just a funny book about naughty children, with a fun twist in the tail. Children are naughty, mummies do (gently) snap, potential step-families exist, and at the end of the day, everyone has a hug and smiles at one another.

It will stimulate some interesting discussions with young children, but everything is perfectly appropriate. Don't be as stuffy as I was; read it and enjoy it. My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

A Child's Garden: A Story Of Hope by Michael Foreman also touches on a difficult subject - war - but is perfectly appropriate for young children. For a lighter, sillier and laugh-out-loud look at naughty children, Hattie the Bad by Jane Devlin and Joe Berger is a firm favourite.

Buy We Are Wearing Out The Naughty Step by Mick Inkpen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy We Are Wearing Out The Naughty Step by Mick Inkpen at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy We Are Wearing Out The Naughty Step by Mick Inkpen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy We Are Wearing Out The Naughty Step by Mick Inkpen at Amazon.com.


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Jay Smith said:

I think that your review entirely overlooks the fact that this book represents a "reality" for children of single mothers. Sure, it's scary for people to think that moms "arrive at the end of their tether" and then go a little crazy, because maybe most parents in co-parenting relationships like to think that this doesn't happen / shouldn't happen / rarely happens. When I read this story to my daughter, she really really identified with it, and the fact that moms can reach their limits, go a bit crazy, and everything's okay in the end. I think that it's important for children with only one parent in the picture *have* these sorts of representations, too. In a world where my daughter is really missing her absent father and not quite clear why my coping mechanisms are a lot less than when he's around, I found this a wonderful read. And she made us read it three times consecutively the first day, and twice the next. A loan from the library originally, this book is going to become part of our permanent collection: I'm buying it on Abebooks toute suite. Best wishes.

Keith replied:

Hi Jay,

I agree entirely. I didn't at first, but then as I said in the review, I was a convert and saw it as being real. Perhaps I didn't explain it as well as I could, so thank you for reinforcing that point! I'm delighted to hear that your daughter and you enjoy the book so much.