4 May 2009

My Booktown Finds

So this past weekend was Back to Booktown. I blogged about it here. It was huge. Fantastic. Highly recommended.

Alas, we couldn't do it justice - it fell on the wrong weekend for that... we had opera tickets, family dinners, shopping and a million other things to do this past weekend. Alas. Maybe next year - definitely next year. We'll book a B&B and make a weekend of it. It's already in the diary:

Back to Booktown 2010 May 1-2 Clunes.

Of course, I did get some treasures, even if we were only there for a few hours. Take a look:

Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress in Words of One Syllable

You know that I didn't really need this book. (I've already blogged about the seven editions of Pilgrim's Progress on my shelves here.) I just wanted it - and now I have it. It was published in the early 1900s, and it has sixty illustrations. It's beautiful...

As I went through the wild waste of this world, I came to a place where there was a den, and I lay down in it to sleep. While I slept I had a dream, and lo! I saw a man whose clothes were in rags and he stood with his face from his own house, with a book in his hand, and a great load on his back. I saw him read from the leaves of a book, and as he read, he wept and shook with fear; and at length he broke out with a loud cry, and said, What shall I do to save my soul?
We'll be reading Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome in AO3. This pristine 1976 hardback copy will be perfect. Jemimah's daddy has fond memories of reading this book as a boy. It's a shame he didn't keep his copy, I would have liked to read from his childhood book. I've never read it.

The Family at Misrule is the second in the delightful Seven Little Australians series by Australian author Ethel Turner. The Woolcots are growing up, and Meg, the eldest, finds her time fully occupied in helping her step mother care for the large family. Pip, Nell, Bunty, Poppet, Peter and little Essie are all back in this second book about the delightfully naughty family.

They had the whole series of these books at Booktown. I contented myself with just this one - plus the email address of the bookseller: jillybookworm7@hotmail.com. Jilly specialises in Milly Molly Mandy, Edith Blyton, Ameliaranne, and Arthur Ransome. Needless to say, I've requested a catalogue by mail.

Little Grey Rabbit's Christmas by Alison Uttley is a new one for our Christmas Basket. Who couldn't help but be charmed by Margaret Tempest's charming illustrations in this gorgeous series about Grey Rabbit and his friends?

I'll blog effusively about this one separately...later.

What a find these were - four of the wonderful Enid Blyton Nature Readers.

I'm not always a fan of Enid Blyton. Her characters are often stereotyped and she tends to write in a twaddly dumbed down way. Nevertheless, she is one of the most successful children's authors of all time, with estimated lifetime sales in excess of 600 million books. Not bad for an author whose books were frequently banned for being racist, sexist and policemanist in the late 70's and early 80's. I remember then being removed from the shelves of my school library... I was peeved - I was half way through some series or the other.

Despite all the controversy - and my concern about the oversimplified language, I love her Nature Reader series. There were dozens of them - certainly more than thirty six, anyhow. I'm slowly acquiring the set. From the Note for the Teacher:

This series of Enid Blyton Nature Readers, although apparently a collection of entertaining and amusing tales, is in reality something very much more.

The sixty tales cover a vast range of Nature facts, and aim to give a clear and comprehensive review of the Science of Life in so far as it is understandable by young children. The varied facts of birth, nutrition or feeding, growth, reproduction and so on, are given in these simple tales in a way that makes them impossibly for the children to forget.

My four new books contain tales about conkers, traditional Christmas greens, thrushes, garden worms, Autumn leaves, ivy and rock pool animals. They're lovely stories. We might start reading these today.

The cover of The Chinese Children Next Door by Pearl Buck doesn't do justice to this final find, so I've included some of the illustrations from inside the book below. Who hasn't heard about this fantastic author? She is solely responsible for my ongoing fascination with the Far East. I remember reading her novels right through my teen years, but it was only recently that I discovered her books for children. This one's about ...the family who lived next door...

"You must know children," Mother said, "that all fathers and mothers like to have both boys and girls in their families if they can, but in China it is very important indeed.

"The Chinese family who lived next door to us when I was a little girl were very sad because they had no boys. They liked their little girls, and their girls were very nice. They all had black hair which their mother combed every day with a wooden comb, and she made it into pigtails, one to each girl, and tied the ends with bright red woolen yarn. And..."

The illustrations are by William Arthur Smith. I think they're delightful.

So, that's them. My treasures. I'll be back next year...


  1. We're just getting to Swallows & Amazon's due to the years back in public school. I read it at about age 43 and loved it, but due to the one girl's name never showed it to my son!

  2. Wow, you found some treasures! The Seven Little Australians series reminds me of the Five Little Peppers and How They Grew series, at first glance.

  3. We love Little Grey Rabbit and the other Alison Uttley books too! We also have a book in NZ called Six Little New Zealanders! This inspired Bethany to write her own book - the first chapters of which are on her blog. www.homeschoolblogger.com/bethanysstories


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...