In A McMuddlepuddle
by Rachel Ragg
What is the world coming to? First Peppa Pig is being blamed for toddlers getting their wellies wet. And now McDonald’s is ditching the plastic Happy Meal toy and giving away a book instead.
Yes, for the next four weeks, McD’s will become the country’s biggest retailer of children’s books and will give out nine million copies of Michael Morpurgo’s Muddlepuddle Farm.
As a professional reader and writer, I should of course be doing a happy-dance. But I’m afraid all I can say is: bah humbook.
Over the years, my children – who were, bear in mind, never, ever, EVER going to darken the doors of McDonald’s – have been entertained by ridiculous bits of plastic Happy Meal tat. Five hundred mile car journey? Sorted by the Happy Feet junk that came with three soggy fish fingers. Day out with grandparents? Enlivened by the plastic pop-up squirrel and my daughter chirping ‘he’s lost his nuts’.
Books are all very well, but re-re-re-reading Muddlepuddle Farm does not begin to compare to the hilarious voice-changer that kept us (and sundry passers-by) occupied on the two-mile walk home from school before Christmas.
What McDonald’s needs to recognise is that people (big ones as well as small ones) don’t like surprises. McDonald’s giving away books is as if John Lewis had suddenly decided to start selling push-up bras to toddlers.
McDonald’s is known and loved (ahem) as the purveyor of junk food and child-pleasing plastic rubbish. We all know that, and we’re all happy with that. Sorry, but I will not be spending whatever-it-is on a child’s weekly allowance of salt and saturated fat in order to get a book I’ve already got three copies of.
If I’m going to pollute my children, I want to go the whole hog and get the plastic tat too.