Tag Archives: books for children

Mini Matilda and Me!

Happy Roald Dahl Day!  I don’t know how many years it has been happening for, but even if this is only the first Roald Dahl Day, what a brilliant idea!  I am a huge Roald Dahl fan, as is my husband.  So it seems extra lovely that it happens to fall on one of the mere handful of days separating our birthdays.

Roald Dahl is, for me, one of the greatest (children’s book) writers of all time.  There are so many favourite Roald Dahl books and characters from my childhood; enduring classics that I absolutely be reading in turn to my own child.  Such favourites, in fact, that Matilda and Sophie were both serious contenders for names for our little girl.

“And don’t worry about the bits you can’t understand. Sit back and allow the words to wash around you, like music.”

Roald Dahl, Matilda.

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Quality time with Granddad…

We have read to our little girl since before she was even born.  And we read to her every day, because it’s fun for her, and because we thought it was important.  Now she is walking, she goes to her book shelf or bookcase and chooses books, taking them to us or other people (sometimes people she has only just met!) so that she can be read to. I love her passion for books and I am thrilled to have played some small part in kindling that fire.

“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”

Roald Dahl, Matilda.

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Friends roped in to reading stories…

As parents we are worlds apart from Mr and Mrs Wormwood (I believe and hope!!), but I think our daughters may have their love of books in common, if nothing else. I can see that we’re going to need a bigger bookcase for the playroom, in any case!

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Not yet walking, but making a beeline for the books.

“This allowed her two glorious hours sitting quietly by herself in a cozy corner, devouring one book after another. When she had read every single children’s book in the place, she started wandering round in search of something else.”

Roald Dahl, Matilda.

Word for Wednesday: B is for…bother!

A verb, a noun, an idiom and an interjection.  All from just one word!  Isn’t the English language beautiful?!  On this occasion, the ‘bother’ I am interested in is the interjection.

Bother (interj)

  • chiefly British exclamation of slight annoyance or irritation
  • an exclamation of slight annoyance
  • a mild expression of annoyance.

I love the word ‘bother’ for its complete and utter old-fashioned Englishness. As in ‘Oh bother, look at the blessed rain!  Let’s dash and fetch in the croquet set or everything will be ruined!’. Could you get any more home counties than that?  I don’t honestly think so.

It just fits so comfortably alongside ‘chin, chin’,  ‘golly’, ‘gracious’, ‘fiddlesticks’, ‘pip pip’, and all those other fantastically expressive interjections from times gone by, all washed down with ‘lashings and lashings of ginger beer’ and a cucumber sandwich or two.  And if you don’t know what I’m blathering on about, then you have obviously never read an Enid Blyton children’s book.

Our little girl’s absolute favourite book at the moment is Rosie’s Hat, by Julia Donaldson.  It may not be great literature, not in a grown up sense anyway.  Still, I didn’t promise to stick to books for grown ups or examples of literary greatness in my choices each week!  Besides, it is a thoroughly charming story.

Julia Donaldson is a supreme writer of children’s books and the illustrators that she works with are fantastic.  In this case, Anna Currey.  Although what it is that sets this particular book apart in my daughter’s eyes is hard to say. Aside, that is, from the appearance of a cat on several pages of the story (cue much shrieking of ‘cat-cat!, ‘cat-cat!’ and insistent turning back of pages to look at the picture some more!)

My favourite page in the book does not have a cat in sight, but it does have a brilliant illustration of a rather portly older gentleman, with the wonderful line ‘A fisherman has caught the hat. Bother, bother, drat, drat’.  I can’t help myself but read the line in the character of a posh, gruff, BBC English type of voice.

A fisherman, complete with picnic-scavenging seagulls.

A fisherman, complete with picnic-scavenging seagulls.

I find the innocence of some of those old-fashioned interjections so endearing.  And their expressiveness so refreshing.  Of course, you couldn’t possibly pepper a children’s book with swear words.  Whereas many modern favourites and vintage classics alike are liberally sprinkled with some fabulous interjections.  And with great effect too.

I think that in adult conversation there is conceivably a time and a place for an expressively placed ‘F*?!’, but wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if we all started enriching our language with ‘darn’, ‘drat’, ‘bother’, ‘cripes’, ‘gadzooks’ and ‘phooey’ again.  So much more interesting and creative, don’t you think? It would be amusing to watch people’s faces when they heard it, if nothing else.