It's refreshing to be able to share one of my favourite stories from childhood that is actually still in print. I have strong memories of pouring over this book in my local library, and it holds up 30 years later.
'One hot summer in Itching Down,
Four million wasps flew into town'...
...and so it begins. The townsfolk decide the best way to rid the town of their striped menace is to make a giant jam sandwich and 'trap them in it'. An absurd premise, but following a wonderful childish logic – as anyone who has picnicked in summer can attest. There is also an eternal allure for children (and adults!) of giant foodstuffs.
The townspeople must start from scratch by baking a huge loaf, and one of my favourite details is the large oven constructed in an old brick mill, with just 50 domestic cookers plugged in around the edge – I would have taken this as fact aged 5 but now it makes me chuckle every time.
The illustrations are a delight (John Vernon Lord's compositions are sublime, as are his trees!) and the rhymes by Janet Burroway make this fabulous to read aloud.
'A truck drew up and dumped out butter,
And they spread it out with a flap and a flutter.
Spoons and spades! Slap and slam!
And they did the same with the strawberry jam.'
A firm bedtime favourite in our house.