The Last Book Before Bedtime

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The Last Book Before Bedtime
Nicola O’Byrne
Nosy Crow
I’m a huge fan of books that play around with fairy tales and loved the author’s previous Open Very Carefully and Use Your Imagination so couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this one. It more than lives up to expectation.
The stars are three porcine siblings – a soccer enthusiast, a bibliophile and er, a cake lover and of course, where there are three little pigs, there absolutely HAS to be a BIG BAD WOLF.
Right! Intros over, it’s time to get on with the bedtime story – the most important story of the whole day no less. There go the little pigs on their house-building sortie and as we all know, Number One Pig is going to construct with straw – or maybe not for, before that “… out of straw!” utterance has left his lips he’s interrupted by a certain young miss demanding inclusion in the storybook; moreover she’s already setting her sights on a movie and associated merchandise. And with such comments as “No one’s going to want to watch a film with you pork chops in it.” miss Cinderella is something of an insult hurler too.
Despite all this, and some reluctance on the pigs’ part, the narrator seems ready to include young Cinderella and cast the three of them into HER story. At least one little pig is happy to go with the flow though.

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Oh oh! Now who’s this demanding to be part of the plot? And she’s got a BBW in tow. Time for a quick cast reshuffle.

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Here we go again … “Once upon a time there was a little girl whose cloak had a beautiful red hood … beware of the BIG BAD WOLF!” (Thought it was too good to last; but we have got to page fifteen before he puts in an appearance and even then it seems he’s about to get the brush off.) “… Cinderella, you can be Little Red’s mother, pig number two, you’re the granny. And wolf, you’re not in this bit.” (There you are.) Seemingly even those who DO have parts are not satisfied …
So, off skips LRRH and whom should she meet …

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More dissent, followed by a narratorial ticking off of the cast and can you believe it – yet more dissent; those characters really do need taking to task before something truly terrible happens.
WHAT? I cannot believe my eyes …

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With the book in tiny pieces, is that the end before the whole thing’s even really begun? Or can that motley crew possibly co-construct a plot to please them all? Perhaps, but only if it’s got romance, humour, danger – no prizes for guessing who asks for that, excitement and one more vital ingredient – cake!
On with the show … let’s hope that no matter what, it has a suitably soporific outcome …
A riotous metafictional romp if ever there was one; and a real gift to those who, like this reviewer, enjoy throwing themselves heart and soul into reading aloud.
All my audiences of 5 to 8s have demanded immediate rereads.

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The cast of characters from one group

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