Sunday Snapshot – April week 2

Four book covers

I’ve read so many books this week I needed two photographs to fit them in, but that’s what happens when you include picture books and early readers in your TBR heap.

I absolutely loved Please Mr Panda by Steve Antony.  A gently funny book that reminds children to use their manners and say ‘please’ if they want to get the goodies.

The Dot by Peter H Reynolds is a charming story about doing your best, believing in yourself and not giving up, but it also encourages the reader to pass on the support they have received to other people who are struggling – great advice, no matter what age you might be.

The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup and Fox by Margaret Wild are both ‘issue’ books about Foxes.  In The Memory Tree, Fox dies after a long life and his forest friends gather to remember their happy times together.  Margaret Wild’s fox is a trickster who tries to break up a mutually rewarding friendship between a blind dog and a wing-damaged bird.  Both books have been very well received but, unfortunately, neither of them resonated with me.

Five book coversOne of the story books I read this week didn’t have many more words than the picture books.  Under a Silver Moon by Anne Fine is full of good messages about friendship, exercise and healthy eating but, first and foremost, it is a lovely story with glorious line drawings. Funnily enough, that same description would apply to Clean Break by Jacqueline Wilson, but with the addition of family break-ups.

The rest of my books this week were all YA / adult.  Maybe I’d been reading too much Early Years stuff, but none of them were nearly as satisfying or comfortable as the books for young children – but then again, they weren’t meant to be!

It seemed appropriate to read The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson over the Easter weekend, as that was where the book started.  A mix of social history, witches and magic it was a well crafted novel, but the story was very bleak and some of the descriptions were gruesome.  Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill is a dystopian novel that made me snarl with feminist indignation.  Set in a world where a chosen few women give birth to only male children and females are designed and made to order I also questioned the science, minimal though it was.  Not a book to read if you are looking for a happy (or even a hopeful) ending.  I really don’t know what to say about the final book in this week’s selection.  A Confederate General from Big Sur by Richard Brautigan defies any sort of neat categorization.  It is funny, trippy, decidedly off-beat and not particularly politically correct and I absolutely loved bits of it.

What will next week’s book bundle bring?  You’ll have to come back in seven days time to find out.  What have you been reading?  Would you recommend it?

Why EVERYONE should have a pair of welly boots.

Dog and wellie boot in puddle It’s definitely been wellie boot weather just recently. There’s something very satisfying about splashing through puddles, feet safely encased in their rubber shields.

Scout loves puddles, too. She sticks her snout into them, up to the eyebrows for preference, and roots out interesting things from the bottom. They get unceremoniously dragged to the surface and killed, terrier style, by a jolly good shaking.  If I kick at something floating on the surface or flick water at her she pounces and bounces, yipping and growling with happy excitement.  I feel sorry for the children being walked through the park by adults who carefully steer them around the puddles.  What fun they are missing!

Book coverI’ve been thinking about the story I’m going to write for my dissertation and reading other people’s stories on similar themes. As part of my story takes place on a river, I read Minnow on the Say by Philippa Pearce.  It was written in 1955 – 4 years before I was born – and feels like a different world.  Eleven year old children earning money from a paper round; travelling the countryside by bicycle and canoe without adult supervision, but not until after they’ve finished their household chores.  Taking packed lunches wrapped in sheets of paper and bringing home treasures in their handkerchiefs.

I’m not saying that was necessarily a better way of life, but sometimes I feel like modern children are missing something special.  I understand that parents feel protective, but are the pictures on television as thrilling as those we see for ourselves?  Can finding out about flora and fauna on the internet ever compare to finding a bird’s nest or watching a newt slip into a pond at first hand?  What about climbing trees, padding in streams, building dens. They miss so much … and then I saw this.

Temporary shelter made from roughly assembled sticksAfter the dogs had finished investigating the den, we left the park and headed home.  I had a huge grin on my face.  For all those parents steering their offspring around the ‘dangerous, dirty’ puddles, there are still children who are out exploring and creating their own adventures.  Am I foolish to find hope in this this small thing?