The Life and Times of a busy bookseller, her husband and Gordon setter dogs in North Norfolk.

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Born In Essex, UK.
School in Luton.
College - Sussex.
Worked in Cambs.
Now Living in Norfolk.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

I listened with interest to the programme on Radio 4 this week about the influence of the Chalet School Books on Val McDermid's writing career.  As I am both a book seller of children's books and a great fan of Val's books, I thought this was bound to be of interest. I did find it interesting, but was a little disppointed in the style of programme that the BBC transmitted - a kind of mock mastermind effect being a bit gimmicky for me. 

However, that apart I was pleased to hear Val discuss the virtues of the Chalet School books, saying that although the girls obviously were having privileged schooling, as a child that was not what the reader noticed.  I wasn't fortunate enough to read these as a child, my library didn't have them, but reading Malory Towers & St Clares, I can echo this. I didnt worry about the class of the girls at school, I was much more interested in their adventures.

Ms McDermid said she felt much more to be taken from the Chalet Books was that girls could grow into women, who could both have families and careers, that naughty children were redeemable, and that the books were aspirational - anything was possible. She also said that personally she saw in the books, exemplified in Joey Maynard, that people could write stories and get paid for it and make a living, and indeed what is more aspirational than going to Oxford from a working class background.

The programme also included several guests, such as Clarissa Cridland, Chalet School reader, female vicar and one of the excellent Girls Gone by publishers of the reprints of the Chalet School Books (which we stock at Between Val and her guests they mentioned the other virtues of this series of 58 books, such as the fact that they are not all sunshine and light, dealing also with subjects such as death - mainly by involving the sanatorium nearby. One of Val's favourite book in the series was also highlighted - Chalet School in Exile, which came out in 1940 and dealt with the difficult issue of Nazism.

These books were then given to some of todays girls to see if they liked them to read - I was pretty sure they would as we sell them to children today quite regularly, despite the fact they are 'Old fashioned' and don't involve  mobile phones, computers, and twitter and sure enough they seemed to.  They were keen to read more.  The books are quite short in comparison with a Harry Potter - children are used to quite large works these days, but are enjoyable and there is still quite a large market for children, mainly girls, who want to lose themselves in the fantasy of boarding school adventure stories.  If you would like to hear this interview it is currently available at the following link.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

I was really excited the other day when Stephen Booth the author bought a book from our site.  I know its daft, but authors that I read (and I do read his books regularly because I think they are very good, and I do enjoy detective fiction ) I have a job relating to as real people, they are sort of 'mini gods' in my world.  Thus when  I get a book order from such an author I find it hard to believe.  I do know it is from him, and not another Stephen Booth, as I have mentioned his books to him, and the book I sold him was a childrens detective fiction book set in the Peak district, where he sets his crime novels too.  Maybe 'my' book will get a mention in his next book! Anyhow - he seems really friendly and pleasant, which is always good to know.
I have always been a sucker for animals - and this started I think with animal stories in my youth - probably with stories like good Old shadow the Sheepdog, the Enid Blyton favourite. This story is about a mole who was different because he was white, and avoided by all the other animals because he was different - except by the Stoat family, and their interest was not comforting.
Then he meets another creature in a similar plight - a white blackbird, who has advise for him.  He follows the advise, and in the end, with courage and persistence, he wins the day. I know these stories have a moral theme, but I don't think there is anything wrong with that - those that are a little different sometimes need to know that with courage they can win through.Barkers illustrations are evident throughout. If you click on the picture opposite you can see the details of the book for sale if you are interested in purchasing.

Monday, 12 September 2011

'He was my friend, faithful and just to me' Julius Caesar/Shakespeare

I saw this picture as the frontis of The Girls Own Annual Volume 57, and had to share it - along with Shakespeare's words written underneath, although taken totally out of context - I completely agree with their use!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Off to York National Fair

House sitters in place we are off to the York National Book Fair for a couple of days. Say hello if you are on our stand - 193 room 1A. Heather