What I’ve been reviewing: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

 

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #3)The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Major fave. I adore Eustace Scrubb. Scrubbs > Pevensies, from now until the end of time!

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image – https://openclipart.org/user-detail/JayNick
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What I’ve been reviewin’ – You Bet Your Boots I Can by Jessie Horsforth

 

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You Bet Your Boots I CanYou Bet Your Boots I Can by Jessie Hosford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Long-time favourite.

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image – Stephanie Vacher https://www.flickr.com/photos/trufflepig/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

 

What I’ve been reviewing – Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl

 

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Danny the Champion of the WorldDanny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a kid (the squirrels! the Oompa-Loompas!). But this is the Roald Dahl book that has stayed with me, and a lot of other people I’ve met along the way. Like any really outstanding kids’ book it has a lot to say to, and about, adults.

Danny has a warm and loving relationship with his Dad: it’s a touchstone that gives him a measure for sane and healthy adult behaviour. It enables him to see the reverse, too: when an adult is nothing but a tall child, using a position of power and control to get off on exerting that power. He sees clearly, cannot be gaslit: he has the insight to know there are not two standards of ethical behaviour between children and adults, or indeed between any two groups of people. If an adult lies to his face, then calls him a simply awful little liar, he is not confused and not convinced.

Projection, much? There’s a lot of it about, of course: the corrupt impugn the honesty of others, the self-important want to take others ‘down a peg or two’. It’s a misdirection that works with the sheep, the weak and the stupid, often enough. But you can’t piss on Danny’s shoes and tell him it’s raining: he knows what ethical behaviour in good faith looks like, and what it don’t, bud.

Love gives him wisdom, and strength: but of course even the kindest most loving adult is a well of secrets, and Danny finds out his Dad is a more complex character than he dreamed… Isn’t everyone? That’s part of growing up, too.

Absolutely darling illustrations in the old Puffin edition by Jill Bennet, rather less enchanted by Quentin Blake.

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What I’ve been reading – Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m giving this five stars but that might be partly out of sentimentality. Reading as an adult, a lot of the things Anne has to say strike me as saccharine, verging on treacly. But it had such a hold on me as a kid that I’m powerless to mark it down.

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What I’ve been reading – A Very Long Way From Anywhere Else by Ursula K. Le Guin

A Very Long Way From Anywhere ElseA Very Long Way From Anywhere Else by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beautiful quiet little YA, with a lot packed into a few pages. Wasn’t there some writer who regarded ‘writing like bread and water’ as the highest praise? This is like that. It’s writing that’s like life, no more and no less, nothing done for effect and everything serving the story.

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What I’ve been reading – Lure by Tarynn Kerr

LureLure by Tarynn Kerr

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting ideas on fairy generation, nice relationship development between the MCs although a bit one-sided and hard to understand from the male MC’s point of view. Not a very good editing job, unfortunately. Constant tense issues that really should have been ironed out before publication, and other grammatical and punctuation problems too. Also ‘deplore’ used instead of ‘implore’ at one point, which gave a very odd flow to the character’s speech. Also dubious use of ‘literally’ at one point, an absolute last straw for me.

Still a nice story, though, and deserves an improved second edition.

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What I’ve been reading – The Little Grey Men by B.B.

The Little Grey MenThe Little Grey Men by B.B.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very gentle, sedate fantasy adventure, with just a few moments of high excitement. I give it four stars for the quality of the writing, although I usually like fantasy novels with more of the fantasy equivalent of car chases, explosions and alien invasions. The characterization is good enough that one does suffer along with the gnomes, lots of angst hoping for their safe journey and eventual reunion. If you invest the effort into really getting into the book then I think it pays off, although it might take a bit of doing.

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What I’ve been reading – Little Big Books: Illustrations for Children’s Picture Books by Robert Klanten

Little Big Books: Illustrations for Children's Picture BooksLittle Big Books: Illustrations for Children’s Picture Books by Robert Klanten

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was delightful, and the chance to experience the artwork of so many wonderful artists was a joy. I was slightly disappointed that only a small number of the artists featured were actually interviewed for the book, as I found the interviews to be as much of a highlight as the illustrations. Kitty Crowther’s interview especially was wonderful, funny and enlightening, in addition to her beautiful pictures. I did mark the book down slightly from four to five for this reason. Although if all the artists had been interviewed, it would of course have been a much longer and more expensive book!

However it’s a beautiful book and wonderfully presented, and I would still recommend it to anyone interested in art and book illustration.

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What I’ve been reading – A Wizard Of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Le Guin, but this isn’t a cosy anodyne fantasy with feel-good endings and a hero to root for. Hi, Harry! It’s bleak as life itself, and morally stern and sometimes frightening, even for an adult perhaps. The stuff of nightmares for a sensitive kid, if you’re not careful about choosing the right recipient in your gift-giving. Ged is a little bastard who grows into an old git, with not much interim period. Power is misused, love is broken, gifts are unfairly distributed. Some mistakes are irrevocable, others pay the price for your sins.

Welcome to the world, magical or otherwise. It sucks.

Beautiful, perfect, a monochrome wash. Unforgiving. I really love this book, did I forget to say?

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