Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children retain their popularity, for who can resist the deliciously sticky ends of 'Matilda who told lies and was burned to death' or 'Jim who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion'? There is a sense that the author counts himself as one of the naughty to be admonished:
'For people such as me and you
Who pretty nearly all day long
Are doing something rather wrong'.
Belloc writes with such verve that every impossible polysyllabic rhyme resembles a child sticking its tongue out at the very authority he claims to represent, whilst reading his irreverent send-up of footnotes is a warning to every reader never to use them pompously again:
'He had a lot of stocks and shares
And half a street in Buenos Aires*
But this pronunciation varies
Some people call it Bu-enos Airés'
This volume includes not only The Cautionary Tales, but also the two books of beasts, 'More Peers', 'A Moral Alphabet' and many other delightful excursions into the hilarious world of Belloc's verses.
The acclaimed graphic novelist and illustrator Posy Simmonds has produced 8 full-page colour plates and a host of pencil cartoons to accompany the poems. Famous for her witty satirical style, her drawings of smug children, grumpy lions and bewildered Eskimos add even more charm and humour to Belloc's verses.