First published in Puffin Post 13, “The Fluffy Pink Toadstool” read more like an anecdote than a short story to me, and would probably be one of the ones meant for younger readers. In it, the narrator claims that their mother gets these “crazes” – something I’m sure many of us relate to – that would in turn annoy the rest of the family. It made me think of some of the parents I’ve met at the store, the ones that would only let their children eat a certain food item or have their entire family follow a particular diet, until the next week when they get into something else.
The narrator’s mother had gone through a phase of only allowing things that had been made by hand in the house – throwing away many of their clothes and furniture – and is going through a mushroom phase when a funny little brown man sees them and decides that Mother needs a comeuppance. So Tim, the youngest of the children, is given a fluffy pink toadstool that Mother refuses to cook.
The toadstool somehow ends up stuck on the carpet, and begins multiplying with every moment that passes, until it starts to take over the rest of the carpet, and threatens to take over the house. This, thankfully, causes the children’s father to finally put his foot down and insist that the rest of the family will no longer be following Mother’s phases.
This story is less developed compared to “Aunt Bea’s Day Out” or “Carruthers” (the other two stories reprinted in Unexpected Magic that I’ve read so far), but I think it would appeal to young readers, especially those that have been dragged through their own parents’ crazes. And like the other two stories, it features a type of unpleasant person – and I would have to agree with this review that they were probably types of people DWJ herself disliked – getting their just deserts. Classic Diana Wynne Jones (^_^).