Book review: Dick Whittington (Petite Pantos)

Mama G is back with her special brand of storytelling, this time in picture book format. Dick Whittington is the story of a young man seeking asylum in a country where it is OK to be gay and express your gender identity any way you want.

Although clearly simplifying the complexities of the situation, it should be a starting point for a conversation about the issues, supported by elements of the traditional tale. King Rat is present as the villain of the piece, the tabloid rodent if you like; and the cat retains her starring role.

Making a panto relevant to modern times, rettaining the familiar characters, and pitching it at the right level is quite a skill, and this first picture book from Petite Pantos should both entertain and educate.

I might have liked a bit more explanation on why yoo can’t be yourself in some countries, but appreciate the age range this aims at. It is up to a parent or caregiver to fill in the gaps, and if a young reader just wants to enjoy the basics, that’s perfectly OK.

Created using the words of Mama G (a series of speecb bubbles move the tale along, photographs by Sarah Knight, and illustrations by Katie Pritchard, Dick Whittington features Bonnie Waack as Dick (the “principal boy”), Mama G as Sarah the Cook (the “dame”), Paulo Andre Agagao as King Rat, and “Tammy the Cat as herself”.

This picture book is released in conjunction with Petite Pantos stage production at Stanley Halls (15-28 December), and sales will raise money for the charity Rainbow Migration, supporting LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum in the UK. Order the book at http://www.petitepantos.com/.

What do you think?

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