I love the dark heart of Beatrix Potter but I’m constantly surprised her grim tales are acceptable bedtime reading for children of any age.
I feel very sorry for Jemima Puddle-Duck – the “simpleton” seduced by a “sandy-whiskered gentleman” with a long-term plan to roast and eat her.
My son and I have read it together 20-30 times and it just gets darker and darker and I can only see it as really macabre.
Jemima could be any young girl with not too much about her. She longs to get away from her family but does so only to fall prey to an older man who grooms her in order to have her.
She unquestioningly lays her eggs in a bed of feathers plucked from the fox’s previous victims as if he is some sort of human caterpillar style serial killer.
Like so many abusers Mr Fox makes Jemima complicit in her demise by getting her to bring the herbs to be used in his dish of roast duck.
Thankfully there are dogs around who save the day – but still exact the price of eating Jemima’s eggs.
It’s misery from beginning to end, with animals dressed up as humans, and I might have to hide it at some point not too far away.