The Bad Bassinis, Clair Hume and Tom Jellett, Scholastic, 2020
From the publisher: The Bassinis were BIG. The Bassinis were BURLY. And those BIG, BURLY Bassinis . . . were BAD.
The Bassinis are the baddest dogs in town–that is, until they come across Pipsqueak!
Parenting changes you.
When I was a kid, the phrase that best described me was “that girl has her head in the clouds”. Teachers said it, other parents said it. I was a dreamer, living in stories and inside my own head.
I had big, bold dreams for my life.
I would move to Scotland and live in a castle. I’d be an actress, on a theatre stage. If I could have run away to Narnia, I could have. I would have boarded the Hogwarts Express in a heartbeat.
I’m still a bit that way – my head is ninety percent make-believe, ninety percent of the time. Adulthood didn’t change that. I still haven’t quite grown up.
Parenting has changed me, though. I don’t dream of Scotland, now – except that I want to take her there.
I don’t want to live in a castle. I want a cottage in the country, because that’s what she wants.
I don’t want to be a theatre actress – I can’t imagine being on stage instead of there to kiss her goodnight.
I’d never go to Narnia, if it meant leaving her.
Clair Hume’s delightful The Bad Bassinis spoke to me on a soul level.
On its surface it’s a fun, funny, exuberant, action-packed tale of some very bad dogs who are softened by a puppy who enters their world. It’s gloriously illustrated by the always-amazing Tom Jellett and it’s a vivid, madcap romp from start to finish. My daughter finds it hilarious. I do, too. But I’m also deeply moved by it.
I love how “parenting” changes the Bassinis. I love how they lose just a bit of their edge, how their meanness is dulled, how they want to be better, for Pipsqueak. That’s part of what of parenting does – it makes you want to be better, for your kid.
And it makes your dreams change. The Bassinis no longer want to be thugs – they want to be the sort of parents who sing lullabies for their kid. It’s not a dimming of the fires that fuel us. It’s a transformation. I still live in stories but I write stories for her. It’s a transference. We now want our kid to have their dreams, and we want to be role models to them for how to live life well.
I’m still a kid at heart – which is how I know that kids will adore this book (that and seeing the delight in my kid’s eyes whenever she picks it up). But I also have, now, the best of being a grown-up, too – and that is the desire to absolutely everything in my power to make this kid have the best “kidhood” ever.
I may never have been “bad” like the Bassinis, but I have seen parenthood transform the toughest people from my youth into big softies whose profile pictures show them gazing adoringly at their beautiful kids as if they are the luckiest people in the world.
If the Bassinis had Facebook, I imagine them doing the same with Pipsqueak.
My very favourite part of the book, though, is the ending, when we learn that the Bassinis haven’t lost their toughness entirely – if anyone dares to cross their kid, they will have two very big, very bad dogs to answer to.
I might have my head in the clouds and dreams; I might never have been big and tough, but if anyone crosses my kid …
I’ll be the baddest thug they’ve ever met.