This is one of the two very best of Eva Ibbottson's excellent books. It would be a pity for any adult who cares about children, animals and respect toward the vulnerable and marginalized to miss out on one of her books. Referring to violence as being a bad choice is one of the things responsible adults DO do for children. Although the book IS lighthearted, the message is clear; kindness, tolerance, and thinking before acting are all preferable actions. Kindness to those who may not be like yourself, or who may not fit the general description of pretty or powerful is even better. Above all, think for yourself, and think lovingly are the messages of this book (and all her books). She should be required reading for all children (and their loving adult guardians/parents/care-givers/teachers).