END TO NEVER-ENDING STORIES
AFTER nine years and hundreds of performances, I simply cannot bring myself to read The Gruffalo aloud any more. I love this book but I’ve done it over and over, on the demands of my three kids.
I’m putting my arm around its purply-prickly back, looking into its orange eyes and saying: “Listen Gruffalo, we’ve had a good run, but it’s time to call it quits.”
Surely we’ve all got beloved children’s books we just can’t stand to deliver any more. The bear hunt can go on without me. Spot and Clifford are in the doghouse.
They start out so delightful. Your young child lights up at bedtime as you bring in their favourite story — something about a honey-addicted bear, or a home-invading tiger, or a delinquent rabbit.
You read it, with all the bells and whistles. ‘AGAIN,’ cries your kid. How sweet! You go again, quicker this time. ‘MORE.’ Hang on — you’re being played.
The next night, you suggest a different story — perhaps about a caterpillar with poor dietary judgment. ‘NO! I want THAT one!’ And so begins weeks of reading the same damn tale.
Sometimes you skip pages to speed things up. No dice — the kid is an international expert on this book by now.
You’re also under strict instruction to do all the voices to Academy Awardwinning standard. You’re stuck until the night your darling child suddenly, inexplicably finds that story totally lame.
Careful what you wish for, though. Now that my youngest is five, he has moved on from talking trains to dross like Ninja Lego Transformers: The Book Of The Movie.
Sometimes we outsource the story-reading to his older sisters, and it’s nice when they pull out a much-repeated picture book. But don’t get me started on movies. If I am forced to find Nemo one more time, he’ll be on the menu.
Miranda Murphy is a mother of three and a journalist at The Australian