Re-reads: Up the Lone Piners!

They were twins: Pushpa and Prema, unidentical. They were my classmates for a year and a half at the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus in Batu Pahat, Johor.

They introduced me to Malcolm Saville’s Lone Pine Adventure series and lent me Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, before I got my own copies. Until I met them, I had no idea there were other books besides Little House on the Prairie. I tried to get them to read Anne of Green Gables, but they weren’t interested.

I think about them from time to time, and today because I have been re-reading the few Lone Pine books I own. I was very taken with them at eleven or twelve, and obviously am still fond of them now, at nearly fifty, but I admit I feel mostly morbid fascination these days, and wonder if, after this read, I should send them on their way.

I know when I was a pre-teen, I liked the hint of romance between the two ‘couples’ Jonathan and Penny, and David and Petronella (Peter). Penny the redhead was my favourite and I was jealous, on her behalf, of golden-haired, angel-faced Peter. I used to re-write scenes from the books, and in  version of the stories, both Jonathan and David vied for Penny’s affections. Poor Peter didn’t care much. She had her pony Sally (much better than either of the boys – I see that now).

With this re-read I am finding Penny insufferable, although she is still much more bearable than the twins, Dickie and Mary, whom I have never been able to stomach.

rye-royal

I have now re-read Saucers Over the Moon and The Gay Dolphin Adventure, and am currently re-reading The Secret of Grey Walls. I wish I had a copy of Rye Royal, which I think I’ve read before because I can remember the cover really clearly (when I was twelve there was no internet so I would not have seen it online). However, I can’t remember the story. By the way, don’t you think that cover could be used for a Mills & Boon romance novel? The way Saville dwells on the relationship between Penny and Jonathan (and Peter and David), I’m sure he wanted to write romances.

Review:Thunder Boy Junior by Sherman Alexie

First published in The Star on 11th November, 2016

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Sherman Alexie, the author of the hilarious and heart-wrenching award-winning young adult fiction novel The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian, has published his first picture book.

Illustrated by Yuyi Morales, Thunder Boy Jr tells the story of a young boy struggling to come to terms with his name. Thunder Boy has been named after his dad who is known as “Big Thunder”. Unfortunately, this makes the little boy “Little Thunder”, a nickname that he thinks sounds like a “burp or a fart”.Read More »

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Animals in Literature

Ten characters we’d name our pets or children after? Hmm, no, I don’t think so. None of my three children are named after book characters and neither are my two cats. It’s just not something I would do, so I have tweaked the subject of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday meme (hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish).

I’m not crazy about books about close friendships between humans and their pets because the animals often meet sticky ends, or else there’s usually a heart-rending scene of some sort that leaves me in floods.

My favourite animals characters tend not to have much to do with the world of humans, but my No. 10 choice is from a non-fiction book.

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Listen to Roger!

Apart from having great respect Roger Sutton, Editor in Chief of The Horn Book, Inc. (regardless of whether or not I agree with his opinions), I have always, always been enormously entertained by his writing in The Horn Book Magazine and his blog Read Roger. And, now (well, for a while now, but I’ve just started listening), there’s the Horn Book‘s podcasts so … more Roger Sutton! How creepy do I sound?

The podcasts are hosted by Sutton and editorial assistant (at The Horn Book GuideSian Gaetano, who discuss stuff they ‘find important, exciting, and fun’ and laugh. A lot.

They’re rambly, not always on-point, and listening to them is like eaves-dropping on conversations that sound like they don’t have a point, but, really, truly, they do. Sort of. In any case, they talk about books ad reading, and all the stuff connected to those subjects, and they’re interesting and friendly-sounding and knowledgable. Love it, love them!

The episode pasted above is a great example of the podcasts, and one of my favourites, so far!

Puss in the Woods

Originally published in The Star in 2009

I LOVE cats, but even if you’re not partial to flesh-blood-and-fur felines, you may find it hard to resist the charms of Dayan.

He is the creation of Japanese author/illustrator Akiko Ikeda and is the main character in four books translated and published by Dark Horse (best known as a publisher of comics). If you look at Ikeda’s website (www.wachifield.com) it seems that there are more books, including picture books and novels, featuring the cat and his friends. However, they’re in Japanese. The four titles thus far available in English are a little larger than Ladybird books, with the same hard covers, and fully-illustrated with the most charming and interesting watercolours.

Dayan has grey and red-gold stripes, a white stomach and four white feet. He has huge slanted amber eyes – and in fact, Ikeda’s characters are all notable for their large lustrous eyes.

Dayan lives in Wachifield, an imaginary world dominated by woodland and streams, and populated by the usual forest creatures like rabbits, frogs, foxes, otters and squirrels. There is an alligator though – his rather incongruous presence isn’t explained, and that’s one of the things I like about the way Ikeda writes. She doesn’t overtell the story – there’s no exposition at all, and characters and events appear in the books without introduction, but as if Ikeda is telling stories of creatures the reader already knows well. If you want every detail provided for you, then you may not like Ikeda’s style, but I find it very fresh and light. The reader is free to be a co-creator with Ikeda – he may suppose and imagine whatever he wishes when contemplating the world of Wachifield.

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