My Lockdown Books: Forty Two

Fortunately, the Milk is a ridiculous riot of a book written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell. Their combined talents produce a far-fetched adventure as told by a father to his children as an explanation for taking so long to nip out for some milk. It’s a book to read and enjoy and laugh over – and then to read again, paying special attention to the pictures. It’s hard to see how you could go wrong buying this beautifully produced book.

So I said in my review for The Scotsman.  Imagine my excitement when the paperback came out and I was quoted on the cover!  I’ve read it a lot with classes and invariably there’s been a queue of children (and teachers) wanting to borrow it.  If you need something to laugh about, this could be it.

 

 

My Lockdown Books: Ten

I adore the Ottoline books, both as items and for the content.  This one is my favourite, though, because it has Norway and the sea in it!  It’s another one I reviewed for The Scotsman.  Here are my thoughts from 2010:

Chris Riddell returns to delight and amuse with Ottoline at Sea. In this instalment Ottoline is devastated when Mr Munroe disappears. Eventually, with the help of the bear, she puts together the clues and realises where her friend has gone: back home to Norway to search for Quite Big Foot. Ottoline and the bear set off after him, meeting many interesting people on their journey. Chris Riddell’s absurd story and brilliant annotated illustrations are a constant joy. With its combination of oblique references and obvious humour this will appeal to children and adults alike.

I see no reason to change my mind about any of that.  But I would add my congratulations to Macmillan for publishing such beautifully tactile items and not stinting on the number of pages.  Whoever was responsible for the design deserves praise.  And I’m happy to say that since then another two instalments of Ottoline’s adventures have been published, bringing the total to four.

8th December

The Distance Enchanted is the only book by Mary Gervaise I have read and I understand that it is atypical of her output. I think I must have stumbled across it in a charity shop or a second-hand bookshop. Certainly the copy I had until very recently was what the pros describe as a reading copy. Basically it was falling apart! So my best guess is that I didn’t pay very much for it. But it’s something I’m very glad to have found. Glad enough, in fact, to have invested in a better copy complete with dustwrapper! Breeze (really Bridget), Felicity and Gay are just about to leave school and go their separate ways. Over a final tea they discuss their plans and agree to meet in the same place two years hence. The book is the story of what happens in between – and it’s a strange mixture of unlikely fairytale and hard-hitting realism.

Chris Riddell delights and amuses with Ottoline at Sea. In this instalment of his clever series Ottoline is devastated when her friend and housemate Mr Munroe disappears. Eventually, with the help of the bear, she puts together the clues and realises where her friend has gone: back home to Norway to search for Quite Big Foot. Ottoline and the bear set off after him, meeting many interesting people on their journey. Chris Riddell’s absurd story and brilliant annotated illustrations are a constant joy. With its combination of oblique references and obvious humour this is something I go back to often to cheer myself up.

Back Beside the Sea

As I write, it is a beautiful autumn day: the sun is shining, the sky is blue and there is scarcely a breeze.  The view from my windows is glorious: the trees still have their autumn colours, there are swans swimming in the pond and I can just catch a glimpse of the cathedral.  Where am I?  In my new office in Elgin.

I’ve just recently been fortunate enough to be given the post of Senior Librarian in Moray.  I have a varied remit including, I’m pleased to say, services to young people.  It’s a great job and I’m working with friendly and helpful people.  But, best of all, I’ve moved back to Lossiemouth after an absence of over twenty years.  From my house I can see the sea and the view is wonderful!

As yet, I don’t have all my books with me which is clearly not a good thing.  Deciding which titles to bring was tough and, in the end, I went for a random selection.  I do work in a library after all!  It’s been fun, though, reading my way through the books I brought.  I’d forgotten all about some of them and they’d got hidden away in my collection.  Maybe less really is more.

What did I bring?  Well, some are books I can’t be without.  Anne of the Island by LM Montgomery, Sisterland by Linda Newbery and Nancy Calls the Tune by Dorita Fairlie Bruce for example.  I also brought some short series: the Carol books by Helen Dore Boylston and the Merry titles by Clare Mallory.  And then there are some that I’ve acquired since moving.  I love Ottoline at Sea by Chris Riddell and Big Bear, Little Brother by Carl Norac and beautifully illustrated by Kristin Oftedal.

I have others, too, some of them even for grown-ups, but to feel completely at home I’ll need all my books with me.  The day can’t come fast enough!