Book Week. Of all the things to survive the 2020 COVID pandemic, it’s bloody Book Week.

Look, I do love a good Book Week. Don’t get me wrong. As a teacher, I love the idea behind it, the focus on a love of literacy. As a mother though, it’s a totally different story (pun intended).

Back in the days my eldest child – who’s now 17 – was at primary school, they gave out awards for Best Costume. Like to individual students. None of this ‘everyone gets an award for participating’ sh*t.

My eldest daughter as Avatar in 2011.

Those were the days. I – and by I, I mean my mum and her sewing machine – prided myself on dressing my child to win the Best Costume at Book Week award. Which she did.

From Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie to oompa loompas, I had this thing covered every damn year. But the shitshow that is 2020 is something else. I should have known from the outset that online shopping would be delayed and that actual shops would have jack sh*t on the shelves. My Charlie Bucket optimism just refused to give up.

From first receiving the Book Week note this year, I scour online costume stores and find the more I talk about it, the more ads for costumes pop up. Creepy but convenient.

Get a load of this! Brilliant effort from me – I mean my kids – for Book Week 2018.

My youngest daughter and I decide on a ‘Wild Creature’ (part of this year’s theme – yes they have bloody themes – as if dressing up as any book character isn’t stressful enough) a bit left of field: the precocious aka naughty AF Veruca Salt from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I mean, my youngest daughter practically is Veruca, so this is perfection. I order the famous red dress with white collar from an Australian website. Totally going to be here in time, I tell myself. Totally organised. #killingsinglemumlife

I track that package like Pablo Escobar tracking his powder, and am seriously pissed when I realise the shipping is from the US via Fed Ex.

So then of course it’s the day before the parade arrives. I can see the Veruca costume is at the local warehouse and hasn’t moved in the past 18 hours. This is the Grandpa Joe of packages.

I put on my best Miss Trunchbull impression and call Fed Ex, demanding to collect my parcel today. It works. The Fed Ex phone operator from Malaysia understands how important Book Week is and tells me the warehouse shuts at 5pm. Hurrah! I’ve got the golden ticket.

I arrive at 4:35pm and casually stroll up to the door like Willy Wonka entering the Chocolate Factory itself, only to find the damn place shut at 4:30pm! Cue a Veruca Salt style tantrum – from me, not my child.


I’m so mad I Vin Diesel it straight to Sparty’s. Of course half of Queanbeyan is there, frantically buying the last of six million Harry Potter costumes. Parents are shouting over each other, “You’ve got costumes at home!” and “Just pick one!”

Super heroes – nope.

Disney princesses- nope.

My daughter doesn’t want a bar of anything else but Veruca Salt.

I have one last chance to resurrect Book Week from the ashes by visiting the holy grail of all random sh*t: Kmart. Forty-five minutes into laps of the place and we’ve hit rock bottom. My daughter is in tears and I’m cursing Book Week for its stupid existence. A teacher from my daughter’s school – think Miss Honey from Matilda – approaches us and tells my daughter that she too is totally unprepared and overwhelmed by Book Week. My daughter calms down long enough for us to get home.

Miss Eight as an oompa loompa last year.

Back at home we try on costumes from years past: Avatar, Harley Quinn, but nothing seems right. In the end Miss Eight stomps her foot and shouts: “I’M NOT GOING TO STUPID BOOK WEEK!”

I accept defeat. Book Week has beaten me.

I realise I put too much pressure on these things to be perfect, but I want that for her, and in the end I’m still a bit upset that it isn’t the perfect Chocolate Factory ending I was hoping for.

But 2020 has taught me not to sweat the small stuff, and that stressing over a costume isn’t teaching my daughter to love books more. So we watched the Zoom parade from home and Book Week went right down the bad egg shute.

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