Considering the time and effort I put into brainwashing all three children into believing that reading Nigella Lawson cookbooks counts as A Good Time, we were always going to love Nanny Piggins, heroine of a series by R. A. Spratt, concerning the three motherless Green children. The books begin when Mr Green, their cheap and nasty father, employs a former flying pig - the glamorous and intelligent Nanny Piggins - to care for his offspring until a human nanny can be found.
My children adore the many instances of cake eating, truancy and flouting of parental rules in these books - things not only tolerated but promoted by Nanny Piggins, who is a kind of anti-nanny.The list of bad behaviours she encourages is extensive, including but not limited to, gluttony, laziness, disobedience, dirtiness, cheating, fibbing and "borrowing".
The appeal to children is obvious. The appeal to mothers who sometimes tire of telling children to eat their organic veg, to bathe and to brush their teeth is also obvious. I was won over the moment Nanny Piggins fed her charges on over-sized chocolate bars in order to fill their tummies and avoid having to cook a lasagna for tea. I haven't done it myself but I'd like to.
The humour is broad and direct. Arwen told me at dinner tonight that in 'Nanny Piggins Treads the Boards', Nanny Piggins auditions for, and is given, the lead role in Hamlet.
Opinions are also direct.
" I don't believe in organisations," explained Nanny Piggins....."Girls don't need an organisation to teach them how to be girls. Girls are much better off figuring out how to be girls for themselves."
"I couldn't agree with you less," said Barn Owl.
"I know," said Nanny Piggins. "That is why you are a middle-aged woman wearing a uniform and playing with schoolgirls. Whereas I am an internationally renowned, incredibly glamorous, flying pig."
The plots are ludicrous... Nanny Piggins - Holistic Cake Healer ??!!
Yet love and loyalty bind the Green children and their nanny, so that the taste these stories leave in my mouth is as sweet and as satisfying as a rather large helping of mudcake, of which, in the Nanny Piggins books - happily - there are many.