Penny Dolan and Nick Sharratt
Walker Books. First published 2005
This simple 340-word story in prose is a read-aloud classic for 3-4 year-olds and deserves its place on any young child’s bookshelf.
The tale features two lonely men Mr Pod and Mr Piccalilli who live one floor apart in a block of flats. Both have cats but keep themselves to themselves until their pets go missing.
Queue the need for sociability as they ask their neighbours if they have seen them.
It transpires that Mr Pod’s cat Tod and Mr Piccalilli’s cat Millie have been socialising rather too well and present the men with a litter of kittens when they are finally found.
The cats are discovered as Mr Pod is walking downstairs to give sad Mr Piccalilli a cheering-up cake that he has baked for him and as Mr Piccalilli is walking upstairs carrying a cheering-up cake that he has baked for sad Mr Pod.
Each double page spread is cleverly designed like a block of flats, with readers able to view what is going on in Mr Piccalilli’s ground floor flat and Mr Pod’s first floor flat.
The text is simple and repetitious, which enables pre-school children to join in with the story.
Mr Pod called his cat Tod. Mr Pod loved Tod.
Mr Piccalilli called his cat Millie. Mr Piccalilli loved Millie.
One morning Tod went missing. Mr Pod searched high and low…
One morning Millie went missing. Mr Piccalilli searched high and low…
The illustrations are bright, bold and simple – hallmarks of Sharratt’s iconic pared down style – and complement the story beautifully.
Some cynical adults might conclude Mr Pod and Mr Piccalilli are gay, but that was never my interpretation when I read this to both my sons.
To my mind “Mr Pod and Mr Piccalilli” is, first and foremost, a gentle and heart-warming story of friendship.
My children enjoyed joining in with the story and eventually reading the conversational speech bubbles.
My eldest, who has a sweet tooth, adored the final spread which features no less than seven different cakes which the neighbours share amongst themselves during a garden tea party.
While the story is brief its warm, repetitious tone resonated well in our house and became a firm favourite when my boys were three and four.
I defy any three year-old not to like this book.