Large portions of my children's book collection were lost to me when I divorced, I mourn them more than any of the other shared possessions I left behind, but this one, 'I'll take You to Mrs Cole' by Nigel Gray and Michael Foreman, is one that I have repurchased because I loved it so much.
This book is the story of a young boy and fear of the unknown. He is an only child and seems to look after himself while his mum goes to work, often making a mess and failing to do any of the chores she leaves for him (social services would probably be down on her like a shot nowadays).
Her response is always to threaten to take him to Mrs Cole. She lives down the street "in a dirty house, in a noisy house, with lots of kids under her feet." He begins to wonder what must be so bad about Mrs Cole, how badly she must treat her children. He imagines them being made to scrub the floors or else locked up in "a dark and dismal dungeon with green and slimy walls" and fed to the crocodiles.
But one day he decides to run away from the washing up and goes over the road to Mrs Cole's house. In spite of the jungly garden and the broken window, in spite of her "straggly hair" and "scruffy cardigan", the house is warm and smells of bacon, so he goes inside. Another pretty worrying scenario but we'll just go with the story and let it unfold. It turns out this house has everything a small boy could want; a grown up who doesn't complain about the mess, tea with sugar, puppies, lots of friends to play with, and, most of all, noise. The message being, things aren't always what they seem and taking chances can sometimes pay off.
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