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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)
Mrs Pepperpot's First Storybook
by Alf Prøysen
Age Range: 9-11
Meet Mrs Pepperpot and find out about her unusual problem. She shrinks! Mrs Pepperpot’s First Story Book showcases a selection of her crazy, exciting and always amusing adventures from across the Mrs Pepperpotseries, bringing them together in one volume. Read on to find out what happens when Mrs Pepperpot pretends to be a wind-up doll, when she minds the baby and when she tries to intervene in a midsummer romance!
Alf Prøysen’s immense creativity really shines through in this bumper–volume dedicated entirely to Mrs Pepperpot. This edition includes stories from lots of books but runs them all as one big volume and proves to be a real treasury for Pepperpot-lovers. Divided into short chapters that use simple vocabulary and also stand alone as stories, the size (this is quite a long book for young readers) does not present a problem as it can easily be dipped in and out of.
This collection is also remarkably wonderful for the sheer variety of the stories in it. Starting with her very first shrinking, the chapters link together and have continuity as a book but the stories make perfect sense on their own and each is imaginative and unique. Kindly, funny Mrs Pepperpot is endearing and cosy and Prøysen manages to come up with endless different and quirky adventures for her as he makes something extraordinary of the everyday and plots out lots of exciting twists. Just how does Mrs Pepperpot get kidnapped by crows or end up pretending to be a walking, talking doll when all she wants to do is go about her daily business?
Ingenuity also means that reading lots of stories in one go is also not a problem with Prøysen’s work, as it is difficult to become tired of such inventiveness. Even when Prøysen reuses a setting, you never feel as if you are reading the same story again. Mrs Pepperpot’s home, in particular, becomes a fantastic playground whenever she shrinks and always plays host to a totally new adventure, be it trying to do housework or minding a baby whilst tiny or discovering a family of mice hiding under the floor!
It is easy to see, with such simple but at the same time magical escapades, how Mrs Pepperpot has endured. The stories still work today thanks to their simplicity and Mrs Pepperpot has just the right blend of kindness, bravery and comedy to amuse her target audience and come alive in the imagination of readers. This volume is also enhanced by the wonderful sketch illustrations of Björn Berg. Whether depicting a tiny Mrs Pepperpot or a full-sized version, Borg has perfectly captured this energetic and lively old woman, and each illustration depicts a funny or important aspect from a story and buzzes with activity, almost as if Mrs Pepperpot really could jump off the page!
Abby Phillips (2016)