Friday, 11 February 2011

library lover

There's been a lot of talk about libraries of late. People are angry and I'm glad: I need my library too. Philip Pullman says it all: Leave the libraries alone. You don't understand their value. A brilliant, passionate and rousing speech.

I had a fancy for reading several children's books during the December snows, after recalling various bits of TV dramas of yore.

The Midnight Folk is the preceding book to The Box of Delights, which I remember being very snowy and a bit scary on the telly. The plot is full of witches and wizards, mutineering pirates, highway men and of course The Midnight Folk: a troupe of talking animals. I found it a little hard to keep up with the twisting, turning plot and the lengthy cast of characters but it was worth it to meet Tom Otter (and his hilarious Bat side-kick) and see Kay put on an otter "skin" (complete with paws) to become otter-like too (I'm otterly obsessed). It's beautifully illustrated by Rowland Hilder - I love the trees in the highwayman chase below, which remind me of my great-granny's Dulton washbasin. 

I had a magical few days re-reading Lucy M. Boston's The Children of Green Knowe, which I think is one of my most favourite books ever. The fabulous decriptions of Tolly's room in the roof of his Great-Granny's house with all it's strangely comforting shadows and flitting visitors is so atmospheric it makes perfect winter bedtime reading. 

There's a plentiful cast of animal friends here too with Truepenny (a mole) and Hedge-prickles (the hedgehog, of course). There's also a netsuke mouse which Tolly takes to bed with him and sometimes catches squeaking in his pyjama pocket. But of course the central characters are the three children Toby, Alexander and Linnet who haunt the house, play games around the garden and become Tolly's friends.

Time to hitch my wagon up, I'm setting off for the banks of Plum Creek...

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