Review Blog

Sep 25 2020

The Goody by Lauren Child

cover image

Orchard, 2020. ISBN: 9781408347584.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. A new book by Lauren Child always creates interest as the expectation of a challenging read is ever present. She draws the reader into a false sense of security, lulls them into thinking this is a story of sibling rivalry, but she challenges us to see more than this, as it becomes an expose of expectations, of labelling, of not seeing difference. And as with many of her books, we are impelled to consider the wider issue where children behave as they are expected to, labelled and boxed in by that expectation.
Siblings, Chirton and Myrtle behave in the way they are expected to behave. Chirton is good, reliable, dependable while Myrtle is forgetful, naughty and a refuser.
Chirton eats up his broccoli, Myrtle isn't even given any as she won't eat it, Chirton cleans the rabbit hutch every week because Myrtle forgets, and Myrtle stays up late at night because she doesn't want to sleep. All of the things Myrtle does, Chirton would like to do, but he is seen as the goody in the family and so expected to behave well without exception.
One night Chirton gets up to have a glass of water and finds his sister eating choco puffs and watching TV. He would love to do this too, and wonders why he is not allowed. The next day he decides that he is a goody no longer and changes his behaviour, so much so that he is not allowed to go to a birthday party. When Myrtle goes instead, the birthday girl does not know of Myrtle's reputation and treats her like anyone else, and Myrtle decides she likes being treated thus. So the two come to see the advantages and disadvantages of being labelled, deciding that there is a middle road, and their parents are encouraged to see them as different people with their own traits.
Child's illustrations are always a treat and these with their blocks of patterns make a wonderful talking point for readers already most amused by the story.
Themes: Siblings, Humour, Difference, Expectations, Image, Behaviour, Family.
Fran Knight

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