My favourite book as a kid: Pookie by Ivy Wallace

This series of beautifully illustrated stories about a brave rabbit made Matthew Parris a Tory, he says. They made me a socialist

‘Please,” asks Pookie in his very first outing into the world of children’s literature, “what does a fortune look like?” “Now, that is awkward!” replies a conceited green elf. “Any other question in the world I could have answered easily but just that particular one? No! A pity! … but I know this. ‘For’ sometimes means ‘because’, and ‘Tune’ is a music tiddleypom, so if you put the two together would that help?” Such sophistry is no help at all to the little white rabbit, who has just nearly drowned trying to share the watery fortune of a frog.

Pookie has left home, with his worldly wealth tied up on the end of a stick in a red spotty hankie, because he isn’t a normal brown bunny like his brothers and sisters and he has a secret sorrow: a pair of wispy wings. It takes a chance encounter with another elf, Nommy-Nee, who will go on to become his second-best friend, to convince him that “a fortune doesn’t look like anything … it just is something, something different for every person. For some it is Health, for some it is Money and for some it’s Love.” It must be love, concludes Pookie, since he’s perfectly well and has no need of cash.

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