Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Literary Christmas

Dylan Thomas”It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero’s garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas.December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. ” Dylan Thomas.

When all the decorations are up and all the presents bought and wrapped, it’s time to settle down by the Christmas tree with favourite stories, brought out year after year as the best kind of Christmas tradition. What are your favourite Christmas books?

There must be Dylan Thomas ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ of course, full of poetry, humour and nostalgia.

‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.” The opening chapters of ‘Little Women’ as the March girls celebrate an austerity Christmas 1860s style,buy presents for Marmee and give away their breakfast.

Long-Winter-Little-House-Ori Another childhood favourite where the children have a hard Christmas is ‘The Long Winter’ by Laura Ingalls Wilder.The pioneer family try to survive a terrible winter when trains can’t get through and all the food is running out. Christmas is thin soup and home made presents and the turkey arrives frozen solid in May.

Dickens is a must at Christmas of course and I'll pay a visit to Dingly Dell for the description of the season at Mr Wardle's.

dark is rising<
A lot of people share my love of Susan Cooper's 'The Dark is Rising' where Will Stanton wakes on Christmas Day and walks out into a snow-bound landscape of long ago to start his new life as an Old One, fighting the Dark. Turn off the terrible film and enjoy the magic of the real thing.

A short story next. Shall it be Hercule Poirot enjoying a Country House Christmas with a mysterious message on his pillow "DON'T EAT NONE OF THE PLUM PUDDING. ONE WHO WISHES YOU WELL". (The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding) or perhaps 'The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle' in which Sherlock Holmes chases geese around London and solves the mystery of a rather unusual stuffing.

From ‘King John’s Christmas’ by A.A. Milne:
King John was not a good man,
Yet had his hopes and fears.
They’d given him no present now
For years and years and years.
But every year at Christmas,
While minstrels stood about,
Collecting tribute from the young
For all the songs they might have sung,
He stole away upstairs and hung
A hopeful stocking out.

For a real Victorian Christmas experience, there is ‘A Country Child’ by Alison Uttley, describing the decorations, the food and the traditional customs of a Derbyshire farm in the 1890s with the kitchen hung with bacon and ham, holly stuffed in every gleaming tankard, mummers at the door and that new fashion of bringing a tree indoors.

Last of all, the chapter ‘Dulce Domum’ from Wind in the Willows where Ratty and Mole visit Mole’s long neglected home and welcome in the local field mice carol singers for mulled ale (a little mulled ale goes a long way)

”Villagers all, this frosty tide,
Let your doors swing open wide,
Though wind may follow, and snow beside,
Yet draw us in by your fire to bide;
Joy shall be yours in the morning!”

Happy Christmas!

Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2013!

I Am Still Not a Loser by Jim Smith has been crordfp-for-webwned the funniest book for children aged 7-14, with Monkey Nut by Simon Rickerty winning for children aged 6 and under in this year’s Roald Dahl Funny Prize.

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize,  which was launched in 2008 in association with Michael Rosen, Children’s Laureate 2007-2009, celebrates its sixth birthday this year. It aims to promote laughter and humour as a feel-good factor when reading, to draw attention to funny books as readable and enjoyable books and to reward authors and illustrators who write and illustrate books using humour.

The Prize has two categories:

  • The funniest book for children aged six and under
  • The funniest book for children aged seven to fourteen

The winners were announced at an awards ceremony at the Cambridge Theatre in London, home to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s multi award-winning production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical, on Tuesday 10 December. The winner of each category received £2,500.

Costa Book Award 2013

Atkinson Bishop O'Farrell Wyld

Yes, I am a few days late talking about the Costa awards as the list came out last week but I had to order a few extra copies of some of the titles that weren’t in stock! All sorted now so you can request any that catch your interest from this excellent list.
The Novel award offers an interesting choice. I discovered two favourite writers from previous award lists.Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum won the Whitbread (as it was) First novel award in 1995. Life After Life is appearing on all the book of the year lists this year. Another previous winner is Maggie O’Farrell with The Hand That First Held Mine in 2010. Can she win again with Instructions for a Heatwave?
Bernadine Bishop has been the choice of the news writers as sadly she has been nominated posthumously for Unexpected Lessons in Love. Evie Wyld (All the Birds, Singing)was one of the choices for Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, so she’s a name to watch.

There are also awards for a First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book and there is a short story prize chosen by public vote . You can download and listen to the stories and vote on the Costa webpage.

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