Saturday, August 22, 2009

Eva Ibbotson, J.K. Rowling, Gerald Durrell, Karl Marx

A diverse kind of reading for the past week, but in some ways all about quite fantastic adventures in other worlds (of varying accessibility).

The Noodle and I have been reading The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson, although he took over with the silent reading partly in response to my laryngitis and partly because he couldn't bear to wait another night until he found out what happened next with Odge and Ben and the horrendous Raymond Trottle. Ibbotson is not one to have a bet each way on her ghastly characters. They have no redeeming features at all, as far as I can tell. He has now progressed to Which Witch and has decided there should be a Facebook quiz called 'Which Which Witch character are you". He thinks no one would want to be Madame Olympia, and if anyone did get her that they are the kind of person he doesn't want to know. Or friend on Facebook, anyway.

I have also been reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and am being quite astonished at how much time packing and organising Fleur and Bill's wedding is taking. We bought the DVDs of Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban for when the Noodle has screwed his courage to the sticking place. He enjoyed Philosopher's Stone very much in the end. With only a few gasps of horror and hands in front of eyes moments.

But the fantasy world I am enjoying inhabiting most is Durrell's Corfu in My Family and Other Animals, which is making me laugh and wish I was sitting in the baking sun with a plentiful supply of figs. But with less random target shooting from family members, I suppose. Corfu seems quite a lot more magical and exotic than most of the English drawing-room fantasies (thanks to Judith for the term) that I read as a child. I didn't much like the book when I was a kid, I think I wanted the exotic in the form of English high teas, green lanes and I'm-game-if-you-are attitudes, not the added layer of exoticism of English people actually leaving England (and not for Narnia, which is so very English anyway). Given my fetishisation of English fantasy, it's astonishing I've never been there, or perhaps not, since I doubt England is actually infested with children having magical adventures, and would be somewhat of a letdown.

The Karl Marx thing is a tenuous link, actually. But I was rather reflecting on how he was such an outsider in England but how his children were so English. How he was trying to have a revolution, but was so concerned with the respectability and marriageabilty of his daughters and the worry of having no surviving sons to support them. And how the constant change and upset of his life is much more in the 19th century tradition of topys-turvy fantasy than the conceptually consistent and tightly plotted children's fantasies that I still so much enjoy.

And all this came on from reading Charlotte's Library, which is an addictive blog about children's and young adult fantasy books, wot makes me think lots.

11 comments:

mimbles said...

I love My Family and Other Animals. Quite by chance I found myself watching the movie one weekend afternoon a while back, someone in the family channel hopped to it just after the beginning so it wasn't immediately apparent what it was. I had a moment of glee when I realised, it was pretty good too.

The only kid reading I've done this week was for the 7 yr old who wanted "Do Polar bears Get Lonely" (New Scientist collection of Q&As). For myself I've been getting stuck into a re-read of Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond chronicles, I'm half-way through book 2.

Courtney said...

England may not be full of children having magical adventures (although 'those who live there' seem to take nieces and nephews on some pretty jolly camping hols) - however, there is the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, run by the V&A, so it's bound to be good. There is also a pretty magical tree cubby in Hyde Park, not far from the Peter Pan memorial. How much could it possibly cost for a trip to London with a stop off in Greece??! Humph.

Ampersand Duck said...

As you know, we are HUGE HP fans, and read, watch and listen to various forms of the books regularly. But the movie of Prisoner of Azkaban is a tricky one... Bumblebee was fine with the audio book, fine with the book, but the werewolf freaked him out so much visually that he still thinks twice when anyone suggests watching it. So it might be a while before the Noodle can handle it.

Charlotte said...

Gee, thanks for the shout out!

Gerald Durrell, incidentally, wrote a very enjoyable fantasy for kids, published first as The Talking Parcel, and more recently republished as The Battle for Castle Cockatrice. It's hard to get hold of, but worth looking for...

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh. I must get back into Gerald Durrell. I enjoyed his books so much as a tween. Along with Willard Price, they taught me so much about animals.

I spent a couple of days on Corfu in 1997. I remember it as a magical place: a golden sunset, transparent blue waters, and a rather drunken toga party (I was on a Contiki tour)

Kerry

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Penni said...

My husband and I unearthed a copy of My Family and Other Animals in Kastellorizo (about as far away from Corfu as you can get and still be in Greece) and we ended up hopping on planes buses and boats to make our way to Corfu after reading it. I am Very Fond of that book. (This was after our secret wedding in Amorgos.)

Penthe said...

Penni, that's wonderful. How romantic!

2xist girl said...

Thanks to the link to Charlotte's blog. Surprised to read that bit about Karl Marx.

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