Friday, 11 March 2011

BOOK REVIEWS ~ Postman Pat and the Frog Pie Dinner ~ By: John Cunliffe

It's "April Fool's Day" but Postman Pat is so busy, delivering the mail, he doesn't realize the date.  He meets Peter Fogg and he tells poor Pat a tale about seeing "flying frogs."

Pat is astonished at the thought of a "flying frog" and says:

"Flying frogs?  Is that right?  My goodness!"

Peter responds with a British turn-of-phrase ~ "Well, keep your eyes SKINNED," said Peter.  "They do say a whole flock flew over the church this morning, and I do believe they're very good at it." [See discussion of this phrase below.]

Pat leaves Peter and heads over to "Greendale Farm" where he tells Mrs. Pottage "all about the flying-frogs."  She laughs and clues Pat in on the joke.  "He caught you out properly, didn't he?" she tells the oblivious Postman.  "He certainly did," said Pat, agreeing.

Just then the twins (Katy and Tom) run in.  Luckily, Pat has the presence of mind to foil their own April Fool's Day prank, when they tell him "there's a spider on your nose!"

That evening, Pat tells his wife, Sara and son Julian, "all about Peter's April Fool joke."

"I know what we can do," said Sara.  "Peter's bringing a load of logs tomorrow.  Let's ask him if he'd like to stay for a spot of dinner.  I'll make a mushroom-pie, and we'll tell him it's a frog-pie!"

"What a good idea," said Pat.

"Then the joke will be on him," said Julian.

"And we'll tell him, later, that it's only mushrooms," said Pat.

"So that he can enjoy his dinner," said Sara.

Saturday dawns.  The mushroom pie is baked and Peter Fogg arrives with the logs.  

When they were all unloaded, Pat said, "We have a special treat for dinner."

Peter guesses "steak and kidney pud" might be on the menu (as it is his favourite!)"

At that point, Sara tells Peter:

"No.  It's a special treat.  Flying-frog pie.."

 Poor Peter can't believe his ears and says, "Frog-pie?  Well ... I don't feel very hungry..."

Sara slices up the mushroom pie.  "Do have a piece," she said.  "It's delicious!"

Peter sits and watches "them all eating the pie.  He still doesn't eat his share."

"Shall we tell him?" said Julian.

"Yes," said Pat.

"It's Mushroom Pie," said Sara.



"Oh!"  Peter began to laugh.  "I LOVE Mushroom Pie!"

When he had eaten it up, he said,"Well the joke was on me!  It was a lovely pie!"

"Better than a frog-pie?" said Pat.

"Much better," said Peter.

... and everyone is happy (except for Jess ~ the black-and white cat ~ who dreams of eating a special mouse pie treat!)

Alisdair and I were inspired by this book ~ so we went to the grocery store and got some ready-made pastry and a huge bag of mushrooms ~ and made our own "Mushroom Pie" ~ but that's another blog post!

Q From Mark Kleiman: Can you enlighten me on the origin of the expression keep your eyes peeled or pealed?

A It’s spelt peeled, as in peeling an apple. It derives from an old verb pill, “to plunder”, which is the root of our modern word pillage. It came to us from the Latin root pilare, meaning “to take the hair off, pluck” (closely connected with our depilate), but which also had the figurative meaning of “plunder, cheat”, almost exactly the same as the figurative meaning of our modern verbs fleece or pluck. From about the 17th century on, pill was commonly spelt peel and took on the sense of “to remove or strip” in the weakened sense of removing an outer covering, such as a fruit. The figurative sense of keeping alert, by removing any covering of the eye that might impede vision, seems to have appeared in the US about 1850.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2011. All rights reserved.

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