Category Archives: Children’s Books

The Literary Cat – Cat as Catalyst


The cat versus dog argument is as old as time. In The Curious Incidence of Dogs in Publishing  Daniel Engber argues that while cats rule the internet, dogs reign in print. Alison Flood responded with Are cats top dogs in the world of literature?, claiming that literary cats still hold the crown.

On Enid Blyton’s “Pleasant Little Hobby”

Terry Deary’s recent remarks to The Guardian on why libraries have “had their day” sparked outrage among librarians, authors and readers alike. There was another comment in that article that went seemingly unnoticed, but raised my ire

Books aren’t public property, and writers aren’t Enid Blyton, middle-class women indulging in a pleasant little hobby


Enid Blyton would have certainly disagreed with him, on both points. During the second World War publishing houses were subject to strict paper rationing, and despite her books being printed by more than a dozen publishing houses at the time, they were selling out in a matter of weeks. When inundated with letters from readers telling her they were unable to obtain copies of her books, her advice was to borrow either from friends, or from their local library.

Enid Blyton and “As Big Ears Said to Noddy Yesterday”


Enid Blyton has, as she so often does, tip-toed into my carefully planned reading pile this month. Rather than my old favourites, though, I’ll be reading some old and some new books on Enid.
The most comprehensive biography is by Barbara Stoney, and while there are actually very few biographies, and books about Enid tend to lean more towards the literary criticism type, this is by far the best and is still in print after almost 30 years.

Creature Comforts

It has been a terribly long time between blogs, and it is rather too late to blame Spring (as it is now Summer), which always appears very suddenly in Melbourne, and is always followed by a mad dash attending to everyone who has woken up from their Winter sleep, demanding food, water and new digs. While I’ve been taking a much-needed break from history books, I found the last two historical fiction books I read pretty uninspiring and reverted back to some of my favourite things, children’s books of course.

Books(s) of the Week – Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand

We found these little treasures on a book hunting trip today. Actually, Craig found them, the scoundrel. I was clutching a rather large haul of children’s books and feeling pleased with myself when Craig appeared with these two tiny books.

They were well hidden. These books measure a pocket-sized 10×16 cm, and have beautiful gilt-embossed covers, decorated by one of my favourite illustrators Edward Ardizzone. I have never seen the original format before, only later paperbacks and re-issues so I was very excited to have finally found one (or two)

Wanders Through the Willows

A little while ago my friend Suz made a comment to me that has stuck in my head. I can’t remember for the life of me which book it was but I had put a photo up on Facebook of a book and she said she “wished she’d read it as a kid”. I made a reply along the lines of us still being able to enjoy books as adults but she insisted there are some things she wish she had read then.

Cassandra Golds – The Museum of Mary Child

Heloise lives with her godmother in an isolated cottage. Next door is a sinister museum dedicated to the memory of Mary Child. Visitors enter it with a smile and depart with fear in their eyes. One day, Heloise finds a doll under the floorboards. Against her godmother’s wishes, she keeps it. And that’s when the delicate truce between Heloise and her godmother begins to unravel . . .

Heloise runs away. She journeys far, but one day she must return to uncover the secret at the heart of her being.

Book of the Week: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl 1967

James and the Giant Peach was always my favourite Roald Dahl book when I was a kid. Yes, I liked it more than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Twits, and even a little more than Fantastic Mr. Fox. I must have read it at least 25 years ago for the first time. I read it over and over, a battered old Puffin copy that has long since disappeared, and been replaced, and read over and over again. And why James? It was the Peach. And Quentin Blake’s wonderful illustrations.

Vintage Little Golden Book Chicken Little – Richard Scarry

I’ve added a new book to my small collection of Golden Books, stumbling across this one last week, a 1961 first Colourtone printing of Chicken Little. This was always a favourite as a kid, mainly for the illustrations, not so much for the loss of my beloved heroes. It is decorated by the much-loved Golden book illustrator Richard Scarry.

Here our heroine Chicken Little is ambushed by the craven acorn….whereupon she sets off on her perilous quest to warn the King that the sky is falling….

Gathering champions along the way, she is joined by our good-wife Henny Penny…

Tinned Prawns and Pineapple – Malory Towers Marches On

Earlier in the year I read the continuations of St. Clare’s written by Pamela Cox, and I although I enjoyed them I was slightly disappointed. You can read my further ramblings on The Sixth Form at St. Clare’s here.

I ordered the Third Form at St. Clare’s and Kitty at St Clare’s recently. Sixth Form and Third Form were published in 2000, with Kitty at St. Clare’s published in 2008. I noticed Kitty at St. Clare’s seemed to return to a more traditional format rather than being slightly modernized. At the same time I ordered the first two in a six-part continuation of my beloved Malory Towers books. I read the first two in short order, ordered the next four, and have had a delightful week at Malory Towers as they have started arriving.

Farewell Brian Jacques 1939 – 2011

Take comfort in those old comrades, who have been companions some two decades, in a world that will last my lifetime, and many lifetimes after mine.

From the immortal Mossflower Country, words from High Rhulain…

“But the warriors true, the brave of heart
Who valiantly upheld the right
They are raised on high to the velvet sky
Bringing light to the darkness of night
They’ll stand there as long as they sky will,
their honour in brightness will glow,
a lesson to see, for eternity,
of where the real warriors go!
So ‘ere my eyelids close in sleep,
these are the words I will say,
may I have the courage and faithfulness,
that my spirit should join them someday”