Shockingly Good Stories (R A Spratt, Puffin)
The foreword to R A Spratt’s latest middle-grade book declares that the collection of stories the reader holds in their hands was created specifically to spread joy in challenging times. With the global pandemic far from behind us, it couldn’t arrive at a better time. This joyful, irreverent collection of 20 short stories includes new adventures from child super sleuth Friday Barnes, a series of traditional fairytales as reimagined by the legendary Nanny Piggins and some outrageous fabrications from a mum who understands that when your daughter says ‘you’re an idiot’ she really means ‘I love you’ (and who may or may not be Spratt herself). This wonderful book is designed to be read aloud—preferably in silly voices—and like the best content created for children, there’s plenty of entertainment for any supervising grown-ups as well. Scattered throughout the book are witty little storytelling tips for adults, and Spratt has slyly and seamlessly inserted observations on issues such as sexism, feminism and body shaming into the narrative: Sleeping Beauty gets CPR, and the Frog Prince a lecture on consent. Shockingly Good Stories is chatty and fast-paced, with plenty of twists on the familiar tales to keep readers entertained. Fans of Spratt’s previous books will be delighted to discover their favourites moonlighting here, and for those who have yet to discover this fabulous author, it offers a terrific introduction to her books. This collection is highly recommended for ages eight and up, but really should be enjoyed by anyone looking for a fun escape from the doldrums. As Spratt says in the conclusion of the book: Stories are good for you. Like vitamins.
Lian Hingee is the digital marketing manager at Readings.