Every year, at the same time, they come – great flocks of them. Squawking, squabbling, screeching. Never mind the first cuckoo call or the sighting of the earliest swallow, there is no more reliable metric in modern Britain for the arrival of spring than parents moaning about their children having to dress up for World Book Day.
What started in the mid-nineties as a fairly innocuous celebration of all things children’s lit, has somehow in the quarter century since evolved into an annual festival of epic parental whining: ‘it’s too commercial’; ‘too demanding’; ‘too expensive’; ‘too tacky’; ‘too much’. These are all, I concede, to a degree, reasonable criticisms.
Personal anecdotal experience suggests that at least half of all children insist on going as characters whose literary credentials are decidedly dubious, existing in book form only in novelisations and comic books: Spiderman, the various Disney princesses, the Star Wars galaxy, Minions.