"The Elephant and the Bad Baby" – a bedtime story in a Bedouin cave

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Married to a Bedouin by Marguerite van Geldermalsen (Virago, 2006)Such a coincidence – I am currently reading Marguerite van Geldermalsen‘s enthralling Married to a Bedouin (Virago, 2006), when what should I come across, with Raymond Briggs uppermost in my mind, following Corinne’s post a couple of days ago, but the heading “The Elephant and the Bad Baby”. This classic illustrated by Briggs and written by Elfrida Vipont is one of our family favourites and I loved Marguerite’s description of reading it with her daughter:

Soon after dinner I made our bed ready against the back wall of the cave and cuddled up to read with Salwa from the treasures Mum sent [from New Zealand]. I didn’t always speak to her in English, and she spoke mostly Arabic, but through the stories she learned the language.

‘And the elephant went…’ I read.
‘Rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta,’ she recited.
The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Elfrida Vipont, illustrated by Raymond Briggs‘All down the road with the…’
‘Ice-cream man…’

The Elephant and the Bad Baby had arrived in the most recent parcel and she already had half of it off by heart. She got me to read it over and over again, but now and then I had to read The Hungry Caterpillar or Mr Magnolia to keep me sane.

What a lovely picture this conjures up (as well as bringing back memories of similar dialogues with my own two). Married to a Bedouin is the story of Marguerite’s life from when she first visited Petra in Jordon and fell in love with a Bedouin souvenir-seller – I simply couldn’t put it down.