Pigtail prejudice

Pigtail prejudice

A charming example of prejudice, demonstrating its capacity to target just about anything, and with bewildering precision and disregard for logic: pigtails must be OK because sailors used to wear them (and we like sailors), but on the other hand, sailors only wore...
Cragfast

Cragfast

Stuck?  In a tight corner?  No going forward … or back?  Call yourself Cragfast. A sheep cornered on a crag, to starve in the absence of rescue. It happens to people too, hope never to me or you. In Arthur Ransome’s Winter Holiday an intrepid boy edges...
Gummocks

Gummocks

This glorious word being no longer current, I invite you to revive it the next time someone does something daft or useless. Perhaps combine it alliteratively with ‘galoot’. ‘Fair couple of gummocks, I’d call you,’ said Mrs Dixon.  ...
Trim, trig and tickety-boo

Trim, trig and tickety-boo

Came across the upright word ‘trig’ in another of Arthur Ransome’s charming children’s adventure stories, Winter Holiday, which I read on suitably cold, blustery nights. It seems the word is used only in Scotland or in northern English dialect...
Mutton-headed galoots

Mutton-headed galoots

Arthur Ransome’s characters have some out of date but still appealing ways to describe their own, or others’, stupidity.  I had never heard ‘galoot’ before reading his children’s books, and quite like the combination with...
The history of books

The history of books

An idea so intrinsic to reading books, particularly those you love and remember, that I had never consciously thought of it.  Here, Michael Rosen describes his first encounter with a children’s classic, and it made me recall early encounters with some beloved...
Leadership as multi-tasking

Leadership as multi-tasking

You get to steer the ship because you can handle multiple tasks at once. Here, John demonstrates his leadership skills: tiller in one hand, pork pie in the other, and lemonade secure between his knees.  A CEO in the making, or at least an Admiral.The Arthur Ransome...
A waste of an island

A waste of an island

Wonderful notion this, from one of the best of Ransome’s enchanting children’s books. Of course if you land on an island, you should light a fire, or what good is the landing?’They had landed on the island near which they were anchored.  They had...
Chew on it

Chew on it

A satisfying simile for mulling over an idea before implementing it. There is much playful language in the wisdom deftly embedded in Elizabeth Goudge’s writing.One of the best English children’s authors, and this is among my favourite of her books. See the...
The sky fallen down

The sky fallen down

One of the most English of memories is bluebell tapestried woodland in April – I have a particular recollection of this sky-carpet in a wood in Devon. Combined with sunlight dappling through the early leaf canopy, it creates an intimacy of delicate colour, with...
Basilicata bibliomotocarro

Basilicata bibliomotocarro

Antonio La Cava, a retired school teacher, converted a quintessential Italian vehicle, the three-wheeler micro-van, into a travelling library.For 20 years he’s been visiting remote villages and hamlets in his home province of Basilicata to bring books –...
Lettres de Mon Moulin – Daudet

Lettres de Mon Moulin – Daudet

These charming children’s illustrations of Daudet turned up at a flea-market, and I have several versions including this selection of his Lettres de Mon Moulin, and one featuring a specific story with it, ‘La chèvre de M. Seguin’....
Russian tales and legends

Russian tales and legends

There is a dark-forested haunting element to the illustrations in this French rendition of Russian stories. They are part of a series I’ve been collecting at the flea market, using a range of fresh and unusual illustration styles: see also the Tales from...
Greek Myths and Legends

Greek Myths and Legends

These enchanting, sunlit illustrations of a French children’s rendition of Greek Myths delighted me. They are part of a series I’ve been collecting at the flea market, using a range of fresh and unusual illustration styles. See also the Russian Tales and...

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