Aunt Grizelda’s Fairy Tales of the Unexpected.

I’m delighted to announce the second book in the Aunt Grizelda series is now printed. Here’s a sneak preview of one of the illustrations (by Natallia Pavaliayeva) and an extract.

Cinders in domestic servitude

Once upon a time there was

A girl called Cinderella,

Whose wicked sisters made her sleep

On straw down in the cellar.

They played games on their smart phones  

While they made her cook and clean,

And called her lots of horrid names –

Good gracious, they were mean!

What is your favourite fairy tale? Let me know, and if it’s in the collection, I’ll print an extract.

PARENTS: A User’s Guide, Part 1. The Slapdash Parents.

The shelves of book stores groan with guides to bringing up children, but are there any that help children deal with their parents? NO. Why is this? Frankly it’s to do with cold hard cash. Who has the most money in your family? That’s right – your parents, and they will part with quite a lot of it for a book that shows them how to keep you in your place. Is that fair? Of course not.

But help is at hand. The following series of articles will help you identify the type of parent you’ve got, because while parents are all different, they can be divided into certain categories. And different types need different handling techniques.

Part 1: The Slapdash Parents: Will never be heard to say: Have you done your homework?

Slapdash parents were once referred to as laid back, and can be identified by a very relaxed attitude to bringing you up – that is they will put as little effort into it as humanly possible. They will never intrude into your territory unless invited, and will never demand you tidy your room. They will seldom, if ever, order you to go to bed at a sensible time, or have a bath or shower; even your dental hygiene may be left entirely up to you. Their communication with your school teachers will be so rare, information about your misdeeds will not reach them, unless you’re the school criminal, and even if it does, they’re unlikely to do much about it, agreeing with you that whatever you did wasn’t your fault and punishing you would be unfair (and too much effort on their part.)

This may sound like paradise, and it is, until the following things happen – rats occupy your bedroom to feast on the mouldering junk food on the dirty plates; you’re so tired you fall asleep in lessons and fail all your exams; you believe you will never ever be punished for anything at all, no matter what you did; your teeth drop out and everyone avoids you and calls you Stinky. Obviously, these are outcomes to avoid. So how do you get slapdash parents to take more responsibility without turning your life into a rigidly supervised jail sentence?

The obvious answer is to take some responsibility for yourself – but unfortunately that means acting more like a parent than your parents, and what kid wants that? So, there are two things you need to do. The first is to increase their energy levels. Vitamin tablets are relatively cheap and might just be the pick-me-up they need to make them put in a bit more effort. In tandem with this, work on their guilt levels. An official looking letter from school implying a visit from a social worker is imminent often has the desired effect. (If you can snaffle a piece of school headed paper to write it on, so much the better.) Results should be rapid. You can expect to find your school uniform washed and ironed and your room fumigated and its unwelcome residents expelled. Further, those parental slips giving permission for you to attend fun school events will be signed. And you may find after a few shower and toothbrush reminders you’ve gained some friends.

Good luck!

The grubby jumper, missing teeth and smiling face are a sure sign of the slapdash parent.

Parents: A User’s Guide.

Next article…Part 2: The Ambitious Parents

Cautionary Advice to Children on Giving Smart Replies in Class

When I was a young witchling, schoolrooms were strict places. Teachers demanded respect from their pupils, and if this was not clearly forthcoming, their punishments could be a little on the harsh side. Although teachers are less likely to feed offenders to dragons these days, it is still wise for children to think twice before giving unorthodox answers in class, as these may be taken the wrong way. The following poem should be memorised by all school children.

On Giving Smart Replies

Some teachers like to criticise

The child who offers smart replies,

And though your words weren’t meanly meant

Will calculate there’s bad intent.

And if your comment was a jest,

Will claim that no one was impressed.

Or worse, may take it as a cue

To show who’s boss and punish you.

So when in class you feel inclined

To answer with a cheeky line

Remember, and best make it quick,

That no one likes a clever dick.

Remembering some former teachers…