Milly-Molly-Mandy meets What Katy Did

Today I’ll share a couple of short passages from books I’ve been reading recently with my children. Both made me laugh, though I guess the context also helps. The first is from Susan M. Coolidge’s What Katy Did: “Imogen was a bright girl naturally, but she had so read so many novels that her brain wasContinue reading “Milly-Molly-Mandy meets What Katy Did”

Catechism of the Seven Sacraments

It doesn’t look much like a traditional catechism, does it? But don’t be fooled. The Sacrament of the Seven Sacraments is a deeply orthodox book that draws on Pope Benedict XVI’s covenant theology and is a direct response to Pope St John Paul II’s call for a New Evangelization. The characters may be made out ofContinue reading “Catechism of the Seven Sacraments”

Escape from the Tower of London

I wrote yesterday about Fr John Gerard’s plan to escape from the Tower of London in 1597, a story I must have read as a child, but had then completely forgotten, even though it has everything you could possibly want from a great escape story. Having bribed his guard, so he could gain access toContinue reading “Escape from the Tower of London”

Pat Reid’s ‘My Favourite Escape Stories’

This was one of my favourite books when I was a child. I have vivid memories of Charles I’s attempted escape from Carisbrooke Castle, Oliver Philpot’s ‘Trojan Horse’ escape from Stalag Luft III and Pierre Mairesse Lebrun’s vaulting of the fence at Colditz. However, I had completely forgotten the first chapter, which is an extractContinue reading “Pat Reid’s ‘My Favourite Escape Stories’”

Heidi, the Prodigal Son, and Patience

The precious book that Heidi receives in Frankfurt contains a story which she returns to time and again: the story of the Prodigal Son. Why should this story, in particular, matter so much to her? On the face of it, the prodigal son’s experience is utterly different from Heidi’s. He turns away from his father:Continue reading “Heidi, the Prodigal Son, and Patience”

‘Heidi’ – an unschooling Classic? Part 2 – Learning to read

An important turning point in Heidi comes when in Chapter 10 “another grandmother” comes to visit Clara and Heidi in Frankfurt and shows Heidi a book: “For a moment or two she looked at it with brightening eyes, then the tears began to fall, and at last she burst into sobs. The grandmother looked at the pictureContinue reading “‘Heidi’ – an unschooling Classic? Part 2 – Learning to read”

‘Heidi’ – an unschooling classic?

There is a really interesting passage in Johanna Spyri’s Heidi where Heidi’s grandfather resists the great pressure that is put on him to send Heidi to school. “I am going to let her grow up and be happy among the goats and the birds; with them she is safe, and will learn nothing evil,” heContinue reading “‘Heidi’ – an unschooling classic?”

‘The Two Fiddlers’ by George Mackay Brown

George Mackay Brown, as I have suggested elsewhere, is one of my favourite modern authors. Standing apart from the mainstream, he wrote fiction (and poetry) that was powerful, haunting and evocative. This is also true of his books for young readers, such as The Two Fiddlers, which was first published in 1974. In this short review,Continue reading “‘The Two Fiddlers’ by George Mackay Brown”

On hirpling and other great words

Yesterday I reviewed George Mackay Brown’s Pictures in the Cave but I didn’t mention his wonderful use of language. Brown certainly seemed to have some favourite words: “hirpling” appears twice in the book, for example, as does “lucent”. Other great words in Pictures in the Cave include “erne” and “crepitated”. So, with a little help from theContinue reading “On hirpling and other great words”

George Mackay Brown’s ‘Pictures in the Cave’

George Mackay Brown was a great but under-rated author. Though his last novel, Beside the Ocean of Time (which I wrote about in 50 Books for Life), was short-listed for the Booker Prize, Brown never really received the recognition he deserved for his novels, short stories, poetry, or children’s books. This is a real shame becauseContinue reading “George Mackay Brown’s ‘Pictures in the Cave’”

Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims

Clyde Robert Bulla has done a fine job of making the story of Squanto, the “Indian boy” who became a great friend to the Pilgrim Fathers, accessible to young readers. The book is intended, I guess, for children aged roughly 6-10 and so both the vocabulary and the structure are kept relatively simple. Nonetheless, theContinue reading “Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims”

Hilda van Stockum on parenting and education

“I think we ought to start a nursery school on Saturdays.” [said Joan.] “How?” asked Peter. “We could use Timmy’s yard and play games with them. And we could educate them too. I’ve got a very interesting book. It says a lot about discipline. I don’t think Mother has ever read it,” Joan added reflectively.Continue reading “Hilda van Stockum on parenting and education”

Introducing a new reading group

Now that we have lots of time to read, I am pleased to introduce a new reading group that focuses on children’s books. In this first episode I introduce the group and our first book – Hilda van Stockum’s The Mitchells: Five for Victory. https://anchor.fm/roy-peachey0/embed/episodes/Introducing-a-childrens-book-club-ebnbj9/a-a1nvknb

Cynthia Harnett’s ‘The Wool-Pack’

Cynthia Harnett’s The Wool-Pack is a fascinating book in all sorts of ways. I wonder, for a start, how a contemporary publisher would react to any author who presented a book to them on the 15th century wool trade? But The Wool-Pack is by no means a dry, historical tome. The winner of the 1951 Carnegie Medal (theContinue reading “Cynthia Harnett’s ‘The Wool-Pack’”

Maximilian Kolbe: The Saint of Auschwitz

The story of St Maximilian Kolbe’s extraordinary martyrdom in Auschwitz is well known. Ten prisoners were chosen for execution at random because a prisoner had escaped. As one of the men was called out of line, he broke down and pleaded with the guards not to take him because he had a wife and twoContinue reading “Maximilian Kolbe: The Saint of Auschwitz”