The Really Rather Wonderful Children’s Librarian wants to know if I have anything red and black in my wardrobe which I would like to wear tomorrow in honour of Dennis. As in, The Menace, don’t you know?
Ah, yes, tomorrow sees the launch of the 2018 Summer Reading Challenge and this year’s very appropriate theme is Mischief Makers. Sounds right up my street as I am
sure you would agree. The Ace of Mischief, of course, is Dennis the Menace who has been gracing the pages of The Beano since 1951. Moreover the Beano comic itself is, quite simply, the longest running comic in the Whole Wide World having burst upon the scene
on July 30th 1938. It seems fitting, in its eightieth birthday year, that we celebrate its longevity in our annual Summer Reading Challenge.
on a minute - poor old Dennis has been re-branded. Since last year, he is no longer defined as a “menace” but is simply Dennis. I am going to find this very difficult to remember, come by stints on the Summer Reading Challenge desk over the forthcoming
For those not in the know, the Summer Reading Challenge is a national scheme aimed at keeping school-children aged 4 - 12 reading during
the long summer break. The challenge is to borrow and read six library books in all, with rewards for every book read and a certificate and “gold” medal when they complete the challenge. Doling out the rewards, the virtual pats on the back, the
certificates carefully inscribed with the child’s name (correctly spelt, of course) and medals are the volunteers on the SRC desks at libraries all around the country. One of them being me. It’s quite my favourite volunteering activity, involving
as it does two of my favourite things - books and children.
When grandchildren Jack and Hazel were littl’uns, Mr B made it a point of personal pride to buy
them The Beano and The Dandy comics every time they came to visit. Every Christmas we would search the shops for the best deal on the respective annuals. It was a sad day, indeed, when in December 2012 The Dandy ceased in printed form and went on-line. I can’t
imagine Desperate Dan was too pleased about it either. By that time, to be honest, our grandkids were growing out of the antics of Korky the Cat, Lord Snooty, even Dennis at his most menacing. It was the end of an era. Mr B persevered for a while buying
The Beano and encouraging the grandkids to share but even that soon petered out.
Still, this does mean that I do have plenty of experience of The Beano, including
a broad acquaintance with both Dennis and his dog, Gnasher (who seems to have escaped the threat of having his name changed to something less dangerously subversive) which will hopefully stand me in good stead at tomorrow’s launch and in the weeks to
come. I am promised there will be pranks galore as we help the participants follow clues leading them to a mysterious treasure trove buried somewhere in Beanoland.
So, what shall I wear? Do I have anything red and black in my wardrobe? Well, you know me, I don’t like to do things by half so I have paid out the immense sum of £8.65 (I am definitely the Last of the Big Spenders) on a black and red striped
Dennis top. It fits like a glove (I failed to read the advice that the sizing was on the small side) so I am a little worried about washing it between wears in case it shrinks in the wash. I could simply choose not wash it between times running the risk of
being a bit, well, smelly by the end of the Challenge - though that would at least be in character, I suppose.
I do also possess a black wig. It’s
not exactly Dennis-style, being thick and curly, rather than straight and wayward. We bought it for Mr B as part of a John McEnroe costume for our niece’s Eighties party to celebrate her 40th birthday. Sadly he never got to wear it, though the Giant
Penguin has since donned it on many an occasion for his appearances on the door-step to welcome visiting grand-children.
I still can’t make up my mind
whether to wear it or not. The black and red shirt is fine as it is, I am telling myself.
After all, the added adornment of the curly wig might make me look
altogether too, well, menacing...