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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Ilaria Guarducci
Age Range: Under_5
Spiky is covered in spikes from head to toe. He’s very proud of his spikes and spends his days sharpening them so that he can scare and bully the other forest creatures. Spiky has been to the best school for badness where he learned the latest scare techniques: “the snarkiest snarl”, a wide variety of terrifying expressions and most important of all how to be very, very bad indeed.
One day the unthinkable happens: Spiky starts to lose his spikes and soon he looks all pink and soft as a marshmallow. Now, Spiky gets a taste of his own medicine when the snails sneer at him and the toads titter. Without his spikes, Spiky has been rendered harmless and is no longer scary. Whatever is he going to do? Luckily, Bernardo, the wise bunny comes to the rescue.
Italian author and illustrator Illaria Guiarducci’s story, translated by Laura Watkinson, on the face of it is a simple tale of ‘bad come good’, but there is more complexity here. Although infused with humour Spiky really is very bad: from the smaller misdemeanours such as sticking out his tongue at trees, plucking petals off flowers or laughing at toads for being so ugly he demonstrates a much crueller streak – pulling the wings of butterflies, capturing robins and putting them in big glass jars and pricking holes in snail shells.
“Spiky had become so very, very bad that even his shadow grew darker and darker.”
Guiarducci’s artwork, a mix of double-page spreads and vignettes is colourful, expressive and full of humour especially with the lovely little touches such as the ultra ‘spiky’ house plants or portraits in Spiky’s house or his ‘scary’ pink slippers.
There is plenty of humour, especially in the artwork that will have children giggling, and although there is no explanation as to why Spiky loses his spikes or indeed, why they grow back again, the overall message in the story is that despite being tempted to return to his old ways Spiky finally decides to eschew being bad. The fun-loving Bunny is able to show Spiky how to have a good time and how important friendship is which is a "very, very good feeling.”