One Potato Two Potato by Amy Cornes Torr

This is not the first volume of Woolley Jones stories, but it is the first which our Panel had come across, and they really enjoyed it.

Woolley Jones is a country lad, brought up in the 1950s (or “in the old days” as one of the Panel put it). He has a lazy dog called Ruff, a friend called Charlie Carter and an enemy called Sid Small. There is a backdrop of other characters – older brother, sister, parents and so on.

Every chapter is a separate story. They vary in length but they all make a comfortable evening’s read. Woolley invariably gets into trouble, either because of his own recklessness or because of mishaps which occur to him, but by the end of the chapter, he comes out on top.

The stories were based on the early life of the author’s father. Our Panel decided that they sounded as if they were based on real life, but had been embellished a bit in the telling. This did not put them off, as they really enjoyed the story lines and the humour.

The book appears to be aimed at boys (as it is almost entirely about boys) of about the same age as Woolley (about ten), but one of the Panel described it as aimed at children from 8 to 80. The publisher’s press release spoke of an “age of innocence”, with the book evoking the sense of a bygone era for younger readers and a sentimental response from the older ones. It introduced our young Panel members to one or two meanings of words they had not come across before, such as dolly, and our older ones to an appreciation of the cost of health care in pre-NHS days.

The favourite bit? Probably the dog show, where Ruff won the obedience prize for being too lazy to join the others in a chase round the show ground. Perhaps not great literature, but the book certainly has the flavour of its period, and the characters and story-lines make it an enjoyable read.

Torr, Amy Cornes (2008) One Potato Two Potato
Stamford House Publishing, Peterborough
ISBN 1904985696

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