Age guide: 4 to 8
I bought a copy of this for my family and one for my nephew David – who was not at all dreadful, making it an especially funny book for our family.
Dreadful David is one busy little kid! He wreaks havoc at Granny’s house. She is stalwart in the face of all the trouble but slowly her smile begins to fade.
The last straw comes when David hoses Granny – he’s already hosed the letter box, the kitten and more!
Granny, being of the old school variety, changes David, smacks his bottom and puts him to bed. David yells for a while but finally goes to sleep and Granny comes in and kissed him on the cheek.
There’s no question that David is pretty dreadful – he's like a whirlwind causing destruction all over Granny’s house. But somehow he still looks just like a cute, inquisitive little kid.
We’re a no-spanking family, but because the things David does are so outlandish – especially to have done it all in one day! – the spanking David gets feels like just one more outlandish thing. And we are clearly told that ‘it didn’t really hurt’.
There are some tricky moral dilemmas happening in this book – did David actually deserve a spanking? Is it ok for Granny to spank David? Should David have had free range at Granny’s house? Why is David so dreadful? How much does it take to wipe the smile right off a grandmother’s face? What else could have been done? How quickly does Granny come around and kiss David? How does David feel about Mum being glad to leave him with Granny?
A very complex family dynamic is at play here.
Then there’s the question of David’s responsibility – shouldn’t he be cleaning up? – what about the kitten he hosed? – how old is David anyway?
We really enjoyed this – our David was the very opposite of dreadful so it felt risqué to talk and laugh about a Dreadful David.
But I think the presentation of a family making choices that ours didn’t make was a good thing too – I think it opened a little window to other families and showed that there may not be only one way to raise a child or love a child.
DREADFUL DAVID was written by Sally Farrell Odgers, illustrated by Craig Smith
Names in this book: David