A Cautionary Tail written by Erica Harrison
& Illustrated by Simon Rippingale
Published by Penguin Books Australia
This book is an intriguing read. At first glance, the format and illustrations suggest that A Cautionary Tail is a book for toddlers, yet the theme and wording is really aimed at older readers.
A couple give birth to a baby girl who is perfectly normal except she grows a tail. We never know her name but we walk her life journey with her and her tail. As a young child, the added appendage is a useful tool but, later, it becomes something she resents. Eventually, her parents arrange surgery to remove it and all should be good from then on. Except this special girl loses more than her tail and the story takes us into her dark days before she discovers, by chance, how to fix her problem.
The story is written as a long rhyme and with a similar heaviness and strangeness in places as some of Neil Gaiman’s writing (like Coraline and Fortunately The Milk). Perhaps the reading age is between six and eight years, but it could extend either side of this.
A Cautionary Tail suggests a theme to children that the thing about you that makes you different can also be the very strongest part of you.
CKT Book Reviewer