This is even better than Glenn Close invoking If You Give a Mouse a Cookie in Air Force One. Richard and I are up to season eight of MI-5 (Spooks to you Brits), which opens with the return of my lady-crush agent Ruth but whose emotional trajectory is provided by the team’s tech whiz and mild-mannered confirmed bachelor Malcolm, who finds himself awkwardly trying to comfort Ruth’s little stepson while under guard by scary gunmen, first ours then theirs. In a quietly great performance by Hugh Simon, Malcolm at first (and hilariously) tries to distract the boy with backgammon but when it looks like the bad guys are about to execute them both, he instructs the boy to close his eyes while Malcolm tells him a story we (well, some of us) come to recognize as Philippa Pearce’s A Dog So Small, a chapter book published in 1962. A Dog So Small is kind of a Holy Book in these offices but I don’t think it ever had much of a life on this side of the pond. Brits: would viewers of this episode, first broadcast in 2009, have been expected to recognize the story (whose title Malcolm does not name)? Regardless, it was a mesmerizing piece of TV.
A great shout-out
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.