Topsy and Tim has been around since 1960. The books were relaunched in 2003 and there is even now a TV series on Cbeebies, launched last year (which I had hoped to be cartoon style, to look like the pictures, but has real people in it).
Some people roll their eyes at the mention of Topsy and Tim. The characters are not hugely exciting – everyone, including Topsy and Tim, comes across as a bit earnest. These books are on the twee side, there’s no denying it. Topsy and Tim live in a utopian version of England; the police station is directly opposite their school but the police spend their time doing visits to the school rather than catching any criminals – there’s no bad folk in their village.
But Topsy and Tim were firm firm favourites with me when I was growing up and my two still love them. So why do they have such enduring appeal?
The main strength about this series is their accurate observations of the minutiae of life. These are books about life issues that children might experience – and while some of them might seem mundane they certainly aren’t seen that way by child readers. All the experiences covered are important moments in their lives – be it going to school, the arrival of a new baby and, in this case, going to a Garden Centre to get decorations and meeting Father Christmas.
The stories describe what happens with convincing realism. In Topsy and Tim Meet Father Christmas, Topsy and Tim are allowed to choose a decoration each, they decide on a tree and then meet Father Christmas. This can so often be a scary experience for small people, so reading this beforehand is very reassuring. Or if your mother is mean and doesn’t go in for those meet up experiences (I’m holding my hand up now), all the other events are familiar. It is both comforting and reassuring to read about other children going through the same thing and that is why these books have been popular for such a long time.
The story concludes with them waking up on Christmas Day with their stockings full.
‘They met someone pretending to be Father Christmas and then Father Christmas actually came,’ said Jess.
The newer editions also have a puzzle to solve at the end and a map of their village. Jess particularly likes the puzzles.
If you haven’t yet met Topsy and Tim and you have small children then I would strongly advise you to look them. up.