Tag Archives: children’s literature

New books: December and CHRISTMAS!

There’s quite a few to be getting on with here! First of all, those bought over the course of December:

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  • Kurt Vonnegut –  Slaughterhouse 5     25p
  • Louis de Bernieres –  Red Dog     25p
  • Penelope Lively –  Treasures of Time     25p
  • Brendan O’Carroll –  The Chisellers     25p
  • Andrew Shail & Robin Stoate –  BFI Film Classics: Back to the Future     50p
  • Niccolo Machiavelli –  The Prince     50p
  • Frank Parkin –  Past Masters: Durkheim     50p
  • Tom Baker –  The Boy Who Kicked Pigs     50p

The first four books were from a library sale, and I do already have a copy of the Vonnegut book, which I had for free from my Sixth Form when they were clearing out their library. However, this copy here is a lot better, so for the price I thought it worth ‘upgrading’. Also, I never realised that Tom Baker (i.e. The Fourth Doctor) had written a children’s book. Oh, here I could go off on a ‘children’s literature as adult literature’ rant, but I won’t.

Now for Christmas! I hope you all had a goodtime, and here are some of my new books:

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  • Carol Ann Duffy –  The Christmas Truce     –     Dorothy Wordsworth’s Christmas Birthday
  • In Flanders Fields: Poems of the First World War
  • Russell Brand –  The Pied Piper of Hamelin

The WWI book is a rather nice copy, in a slip case, and the Russell Brand book is a (whisper it!) children’s book, but also illustrated by Chris Riddell, one of my favourite illustrators.

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  • The Jedi Path
  • Book of Sith
  • The Bounty Hunter Code

Yep, I like Star Wars. In fact, I really like Star Wars. And these are rather indulgent books, made to look like they’re written by various characters, and annotated by others.

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  • Brian May with Simon Bradley –  Brian May’s Red Special: The Story of the Home-Made Guitar that Rocked Queen and the World
  • Glenn Povey –  Pink Floyd Treasures

I also really like Queen. And Pink Floyd.

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  • Mock the Week’s Only Book You’ll Ever Need
  • Chris Fern & George Speake-  Beasts, Birds and Gods: Interpreting the Staffordshire Hoard
  • Paul Parsons & Gail Dixon – The Periodic Table:  A Field Guide to the Elements

That last book is going o come in quite useful for reference at work, and the Hoard book is of particular interest, as it looks into the animal imagery of the Hoard and places it in a wider Anglo Saxon context. Also, George Speake works at the Institute of Archaeology in Oxford, so I may have come across him once or twice in my time there.

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New books: September and October

What with one thing or another, I didn’t get around to posting a ‘New books’ post for September, so thought that I may as well include it with October’s.

Here’s September:

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  • Tim Moore –  I Believe in Yesterday: A 2,000 Year Tour Through the Filth and Fury of Living History     10p
  • Roddy Doyle –  Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha     10p
  • Thomas Hardy –  Jude the Obscure     10p
  • Theocritus –  The Idylls     10p
  • Jennifer Hargreaves –  Sporting Females: Critical issues in the history and sociology of women’s sports     10p

These were all from two local library sales, hence the ridiculous prices. Also, astute readers may notice that I had this same edition of the Hardy book from a library sale (indeed, from the same library) several months back, but this copy here is in far better condition, so it replaces my previous version.

…and now October:

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  • Janni Howker –  Isaac Campion     50p
  • Daniel Defoe –  Robinson Crusoe     50p
  • Peter Schneider –  The Wall Jumper     £4
  • Jules Verne –  Journey to the Centre of the Earth     50p
  • Terry Pratchett –  The Colour of Magic     50p
  • Thomas a Kempis –  The Imitation of Christ     1 of 3 for £2
  • Gustav Flaubert –  Madame Bovary     2 of 3 for £2
  • Bernard McCabe –  Bottle Rabbit and Friends      3 of 3 for £2

I’ve already got a copy of Robinson Crusoe, but this is an Oxford World Classics edition, and infinitely nicer than my existing edition, and I’ve alredy got a copy of the Verne novel (a rather nice Folio Society one), but this newly-acquired edition will take up less room on a bookcase, and is slightly more reader-friendly. Also of vague interest is the fact that I met Janni Howker back in 2005 when she ran a creative writing course for schools in our area, and have meant to get one of her books to try since then- only managing to do so 9 years later! The purchase of her book and the last book listed are also examples of my point about adult and children’s literature (which I will at some point get round to writing a full post on), as I’m beginning to blur the distinction between the two when it comes to my choice of reading. And the latter is illustrated by Axel Scheffler. He illustrated The Gruffalo and is a personal favourite illustrator of mine, which is my excuse for getting it. He’s illustrated a copy of T.S.Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats which is high on my book wish list too.

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Charlie and the Sexualised Plastic Doll Factory (‘A New Take by Penguin’, or ‘Dahl 2.0’)

10606393_10154424928960371_8941943695899364569_nYou may have seen the recent furore surrounding this latest upcoming release from Penguin in the wonderful Modern Classics range. As you can tell from the title, it is a fiftieth anniversary reissue of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and in a rare move, the publishers have released it as an adult Classic rather than as a Puffin children’s classic. Now, as you may have been able to tell from some of my previous blog posts, I really don’t have a problem with the appropriation of ‘children’s literature’ for adults, as truly great literature shouldn’t really be confined by age ranges and all that. I enjoy Roald Dahl now as an adult, and there are many children’s and teenage books that easily bounce between categories, mainly based upon their cover images (think Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland etc.), but here… oh dear. I can sort of see where Penguin are going, with the slightly dark and unnerving cover image, but I fail to see how it relates easily with the story. Sure, there’s bratty female characters in it that this could represent, with supporting and yet somewhat absent/ineffectual parents, but unless this is a more general representation of the parenting critiques offered by Dahl, I don’t find this truly representative of the novel as a whole. Personally, I can’t help but feel that a slightly cliched image of chocolate or sweets may have been better. Hopefully, Penguin may bend to public opinion in this case and change their offering before the publication next month.

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Books from the past few weeks

A few more books purchased over the past couple of weeks:

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  • Mary Wolstonecraft –  A Vindication of the Rights of Men & A Vindication of the Rights of Woman     50p
  • Iain Banks –  The Wasp Factory     40p
  • Oscar Wilde –  The Happy Prince     20p
  • Ernest Hemingway –  The Old Man and the Sea     99p
  • Jeanette Winterson –  Sexing the Cherry     50p
  • Virago at 40: A Celebration     50p
  • George and Weedon Grossmith –  The Diary of a Nobody     50p
  • Laurie Lee –  Cider with Rosie     50p
  • S.E. Hinton –  The Outsiders     Free (swapped with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
  • Ross Raisin –  God’s Own Country     Free (swapped with Through the Looking Glass)

The last two came from a book swap we’ve had at work for the past week, and I swapped my individual copies of Lewis Carroll’s wonderful work, as I’ve also got an Oxford Classics edition with both volumes in one book.

Interestingly, the Hinton book is one that I recognised but didn’t know why, and eventually realised it’s because I’d seen it advertised on the Penguin Classics website. This, however, is a Puffin edition, which I thought was interesting, showing again that the distinction between children’s books and adult texts is often blurred. I feel that I should do a post about that soon.

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Thoughts on Tove Jansson’s ‘Finn Family Moomintroll’

Moominpappa's new hat

Yes, I know that this is technically a children’s book. However, as I’ve said before about Roald Dahl, I think it’s fine to read children’s book when adult if they are classics, and Jansson’s Moomin books fit that label magnificently.

Finn Family Moomintroll is the third Moomin book, published in 1948, but was marketed as the first in the series when published in the UK in the 1961. I honestly can’t remember whether I’ve read it before, as I did read several of the stories when I was younger, and remember that I really enjoyed them. Upon reading this book now, I was impressed by the fact that it is not all light and airy, and indeed the series gets progressively darker in the later books Moominland Midwinter, Moominpappa at Sea, and Moominvalley in November. Strangely, this darker tone appeals to me, and I would be interested to read these volumes.

Finn Family Moomintroll revolves around the discovery of a magician’s hat which can transform anything placed inside it into something else, and this makes for some inspired and entertaining exploits. I particularly liked the clouds that appeared from an eggshell placed in the hat, and found the entire plot extremely satisfying.

There’s very little else to say about this, but I did enjoy it, and hope to read more, with the eventual hope that I can introduce my children to this series, and have a new excuse to buy them all!

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