The child with the shining eyes and sticky out hair tells me that, when choosing her library books, she likes to look for the very rudest she can find. I comfort myself with the thought that this is, after all, the Children’s
Library which surely must limit the level of rudeness in the books it loans out to young readers.
Yes, here I am at the Creepy Desk, listening to a procession
of 4 – 11 year olds tell me all about the books they have been reading as part of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. In return, I have rewards to offer them – smelly “scratch and sniff” stickers, a Fortune Teller, a Creepy
House chart on which to record all the books they have read and activity sheets galore. When they come on their fourth and final visit, to tell me about the last two books they have read, I print their name on a colourful certificate and present them
with a “gold” medal. Health and Safety determines the fact that there is no ribbon provided with the medal. This is rather a shame as it would be extra special, I feel, to be able to actually hang the medals around the necks of the successful ones,
like they do at the Olympics. Perhaps I am getting ideas above my station?
Which of her two books did she like best? I ask Miss Sticky Out Hair. She points it
out. Why that one? I ask her – but I know the answer even before it leaves her lips: “It was the rudest!” she says, exultantly. Her mother sighs, patiently, and tells me her daughter has only just discovered the Roodica the Rude books
by Margaret Ryan – hence her fixation with rudeness. I flick through the pages of one of the books and characters like Fatius Guttus and Copius Mucus leap out at me. “He’s a spying, sneaky snot,” Miss Sticky Out Hair tells me,
with considerable relish, before heading off to the bookshelves to find another Thoroughly Rude Read. Her mother gives me an apologetic grin and trails after her.
fellow volunteer on the Creepy Desk is waiting for her GCSE results, due out next week. She says she keeps dreaming that she has done very, very badly. I try to divert her by suggesting that we check that all the registration cards are in alphabetical
order. I take A – L, she takes M – Z. It is quite amazing how many cards are misfiled, we find. After that we cut out lots more name cards and talk about her recent Duke of Edinburgh expedition where, being tiny, she struggled under the weight
of her rucksack. I tell her about my eldest grand-daughter, Katie, who is also doing her Duke of Edinburgh awards. She asks me lots of questions about Katie’s experiences which I can’t answer. I am tempted to make up a few credible responses on
the grounds that my young friend would not know one way or another but, like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie.
My companion has to leave at 4 p.m. leaving
me alone for the last hour of my three hour stint. The number of children visiting the Creepy Desk has dropped to single figures in this final hour of the day so I find a Dorothy Koomson book on the "Quick Choice" stand and start devouring it. Now
I will have to find my library card so that I can borrow the book officially and I will have to remember that “Quick Choice” books have to be returned in seven days.
Before I leave, I pay a quick visit to the Children’s Library shelves to check out Roodica the Rude for myself. I am fortunate enough to find “Roodica the Rude and the Chariot Challenge” which is all about a chariot race between Roodica
and Copius Mucus. Roodica’s chariot is a clapped out cart and her horse is named Plodette (enough said?) Copius Mucus, on the other hand, has a Roman chariot drawn by a pure bred Arab stallion.
I won’t tell you what happens, just in case you want to read it yourself, but I have to admit that Miss Shining Eyes and Sticky Out Hair was absolutely, 100%, right. Copius Mucus is, indeed, a spying, sneaky
How very rude! How very, deliciously, wonderfully rude!