A fine selection of subjects to talk about with a new acquaintance. This is the boy’s first (and last) encounter with a new girl in the neighbourhood, before she shuns him in favour of another boy.

These stories, drawing on the author’s own childhood, see the world from the child’s perspective. Aunts are a fierce breed here and, along with other adults, are referred to as ‘Olympians’. Like the gods, and some bosses, they are unpredictable, incomprehensible and omnipotent, and given to sudden and unaccountable attacks of ire. Gardeners can be OK, except if you burn all their pea-sticks to make a bonfire in honour of Nelson on Trafalgar Day.

‘From worms we passed, naturally enough, to frogs, and thence to pigs, aunts, gardeners, rocking-horses, and other fellow-citizens of our common kingdom.’

Source: Kenneth Grahame, Dream Days, illus. by Maxfield Parrish (Edin.: Paul Harris Publishing, 1983), p. 49


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