Random rummaging and reliable references


The Ultimate Book Guide: Over 600 great books for 8-12s
Daniel Hahn and Leonie Flynn (editors) Susan Reuben (associate editor)
Anne Fine, Children’s Laureate 2001-3 (introduction)
A & C Black 2004

I couldn’t resist picking this up secondhand, especially as I love books that I can dip into, for both reliable references and for random rummaging. Despite not being completely up-to-date (what printed publication can ever be?) or truly comprehensive (as far as I can see most of the books are Eurocentric or North American, so very little world literature) this is a volume I shall hang on to — that is, unless I get my hands on the 2009 edition (subtitle: Over 700 Great Books for 8-12s).

Continue reading “Random rummaging and reliable references”

Secrets galore

via occulta
Directions for the Secret Way

Enid Blyton Five Go Adventuring Again
Illustrated by Eileen A Soper
Hodder Children’s Books 1997 (1943)

The second in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, Five Go Adventuring Again as before features siblings Julian (12), Dick (11) and Anne (10), together with their eleven-year-old cousin Georgina– hereinafter George — and her dog Timothy (also variously referred to as Tim, Timmy and a ‘peculiar-looking’ and ‘terrible mongrel’). Published the year after Five on a Treasure Island but set during the Christmas holidays of the same year, this outing for the quintet also involves intrepid youngsters, unbelieving grown-ups and a few dastardly villains.

Circumstances dictate that the trio again spend time at Kirrin Cottage by the sea where, not unexpectedly, trouble finds them. In 1943 Britain was still at war, though you’ll find no reference to the conflict bar the fact that a secret formula is close to being stolen by enemies of the state. Continue reading “Secrets galore”



#bookcheat: literature classic (or maybe classic literature) summarized in 140 characters or less

Do you recognise the following books based on descriptions I’ve tweeted using the #bookcheat hashtag? They’re either familiar classics of their genre or that rather amorphous category, modern classics. (The tag is sometimes defined as ‘we read the books so you don’t have to’.)

Anthropoids adopt orphan, future lord of jungle also English milord. Concrete jungle a challenge, loses heart.

See, it’s easy! Try this one:

Alternate history by lofty châtelain in alternate history. Authentic? Chance, and Dick, will tell.

No? Perhaps you haven’t read the same SF as me. And I do agree that it reads a bit like a cryptic crossword clue. Here’s a work I reviewed recently:

Graphic novel graphic & novel: vigilantes pawns in megalomaniac plot to end all wars. Will it work? Will it hell!

This may find you traipsing all over the place:

Hubby works overseas, then Med cruise with mates before return. Is wifey faithful? Gold-diggers made to bow out.

There, that was a gift. Final one:

Quintessential kids novel, sometimes insular, when beast joins quartet to revive family fortunes.

You really don’t need any clues to solve the last riddle…

Pushing the right buttons


Enid Blyton Five on a Treasure Island
Knight Books 1975 (1942)

Enid Blyton’s fiction remains extraordinarily popular. Despite the disdain of literary critics much of her vast output remains in print because, as publishers know, her work sells. I was brought up on the Noddy books, migrated to the Famous Five and then on to the Secret Seven. I never got onto Malory Towers or St Clare’s (girl’s stuff, of course) or anything else that wasn’t part of a series. Re-reading Five on a Treasure Island as an adult it’s clear why Blyton is criticised, made fun of and parodied: the writing is stilted, employs a limited vocabulary (anything out of the ordinary is ‘queer’) and frequently mundane. But it does appeal to young readers, mainly because it is told from their point of view – their passions, their fears, their expectation that every morning holds the promise of adventure.

You have to hand it to Blyton – she knew how to push the right buttons. Continue reading “Pushing the right buttons”