Belinda Brown

This is classic McKee – flat, two-dimensional, child-like artwork that conceals his genius. There is a rhyming text that avoids (narrowly) being contrived. As well as the rhyming, we have alliteration as in ‘Brother Bryan gobbled burgers, biscuits and bakes, bangers, buns, brioche and for breakfast? Bran flakes.’

Belinda Brown loves bananas; she eats nothing else and no one appears to care. Besides Belinda we have a large supporting cast – her brother, the twins, her indulgent, even neglectful, parents (shades of Not Now, Bernard), Aunt Sally, Cousin Norris, and Belinda’s ‘former’ best friend, Felicity Jones (thereby hangs a tale). Aspects of the Brown family life are revealed; for example, mealtimes, where ‘they talked of politics, art and the weather’ – quite the white, middle class lot, the Browns. ‘Busy and wealthy’ Mr Brown is depicted gazing at his phone, oblivious to his family. We see Belinda in her bedroom and note the nods to some other McKee books. We peek into the private lives of the aunt and cousin. Tongue in cheek, McKee tells us that Cousin Norris likes green, leafy food, yet we see him wolfing down a large bag of crisps. Only Granny, a reader, eventually becomes concerned about Belinda’s dreadful diet (although Granny herself is shown tucking into a box of chocolates). She targets Belinda’s vanity to break her addiction to bananas– you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens. There are lots of discussion points here about families, diet, nutrition and life-style.