The Tale of Toxic Positivity by Beatrix Pottymouth

 What better way to spread a bit of seasonal joy than the new book by Paul Magrs?

“From a toad who hates fishing to a hungry dog who runs a vegan cafe even though he wants to eat all the customers, and an inquisitive duck wondering about breast enhancement, this Tale of Toxic Positivity is packed full of the weird, wonderful and very slightly askew. Basically, it’s rubbish being a rabbit, never trust a fox and read more books – the last of which sentiments, at least, I reckon we can all get behind.”

As the nights draw in, the weather finally turns sharply colder, and you wonder just how you’re going to manage to both heat the house and pay for Christmas, we’re all most definitely in need of something to cheer us all up. And what better way to spread a bit of seasonal joy than the new book by Paul Magrs?

The follow-up to last year’s hilarious and best-selling The Panda, the Cat and the Dreadful Teddy, this time round Magrs’ turns his pen in the direction of British cultural icon Beatrix Potter and her menagerie of talking animals. If you’re a fan of Mrs Tiggywinkle, Jeremy Fisher and Peter Rabbit, don’t worry though – you can feel the love for Potter’s characters shining through on every page (unlike a certain pair of terrible recent movies), and even if the answer to the question on one of the early pages – ‘Is this new book going to be just loads more animals saying f**k and bugger and bollocks again?’ – is ‘Well, yes a bit’, there’s also all sorts of non-sweary pleasure to be had.

From a toad who hates fishing and a familiar hedgehog who thinks both laundry and ironing are shit, to a hungry dog who runs a vegan cafe even though he wants to eat all the customers, and an inquisitive duck wondering about breast enhancement, this Tale of Toxic Positivity is packed full of the weird, wonderful and very slightly askew. Basically, it’s rubbish being a rabbit, never trust a fox and read more books – the last of which sentiments, at least, I reckon we can all get behind.

It’s not all words, though – it is a picture book, after all, and some of the illustrations are utterly gorgeous. I particularly liked the various plants and animals which take up the side of the pages in Beatrix’s introductory letter (and for those of a more subtle humour, check out the suggestive shape of the toadstools in the introductory letter from Beatrix for a defiantly subversive giggle or two!). For some reason they reminded me of the TV show The Detectorists, as well as Ms Potter’s own work.

Costing about the same as a coffee and cake from Starbucks, but far better for you, this is the ideal stocking filler for a friend you really like this Christmas. Like it says at the end of the book, life is a nightmare at times – but this book genuinely makes it a little bit better!


 ‘The Tale of Toxic Positivity’ by Beatrix Pottymouth (with assistance from Paul Magrs) originally published 13 October 2022 by HarperCollins, RRP £10.99

 Stuart Douglas is an author, and editor and owner of the publisher Obverse Books. He has written four Sherlock Holmes novels and can be found on twitter at @stuartamdouglas

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