“One hot summer in Itching Down, four million wasps flew into town”…
The villagers of Itching Down are suffering under a plague of wasps, and nobody has a good suggestion of how to get rid of them. Then Bap the Baker has a brilliant idea: “What do wasps like best to eat? Strawberry jam! Now wait a minute – if we made a giant sandwich we could trap them in it!”
And so begins the villagers’ task to build the biggest jam sandwich anyone has ever seen. It needs fifty cookers in an old mill to cook it, several people and a saw to slice it, and eight horses to pull it to the enormous picnic cloth ready for the wasps. They add butter and jam, and several helicopters and an implausibly airborne tractor hover in anticipation with the top slice of bread.
This is an enjoyably surreal story with a pacey metre and detailed, stylish illustrations. They do look dated by today’s standards simply because of the cut and print of the clothes, but it is unlikely that anyone under the age of ten will care. Try getting children to describe what’s happening in the pictures, or talk about the words and what rhymes are. Count the wasps; discuss whether you think the plan would really work – even make some bread and watch it rise!
An undisputed classic.