Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: Holiday reading lust

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  • JoJo,

    I have never wanted to have children, but I do wish I had someone to read to! Reading aloud is wonderful - I used to do when I was a primary school teacher. I miss it! Someone lend me a child for a minute or two...

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 95 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Here, borrow mine. Ah, geographical problem. Otherwise, no problem ;-)

    Since you're here JoJo, can I be so bold as to remind people of this;

    Bridget Williams Books is trying to encouraging people to sponsor books into Tuhoe marae. There are order forms, but the easiest way is to send a cheque for the RRP ($79.99) to BWB, PO Box 12474, Wellington. Attach a note saying "For Encircled Lands marae copy" or something. We're hoping to get one copy to each marae in the area.

    You can see the Marae in need of a copy of the book here.
    Nga Marae o Ngai Tuhoe. Not a small matter, but a worthwhile one.

    The cheque is burning a hole in my pocket while I sort out Christmas, but I'm sending it today, and hoping it will provide a book for the Piripari Marae, in Waimana, which has a family connection.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Hi Jolisa

    What a great reading list! Like everyone else I loved Gerald Durrell's books - especially My Family and Other Animals.

    Other books an 8 year old might:

    The Chrysalids

    Science fiction with children as protagonists, plus the happy ending is in New Zealand.

    The Tapestry Room

    The author's dedication is interesting in itself:

    "TO
    H. R. H. VITTORIO EMANUELE
    PRINCE OF NAPLES
    CROWN PRINCE OF ITALY
    ONE OF THE KINDLIEST OF MY
    YOUNG READERS"

    but the book is wonderful. Giovanni, did Vittorio Emanuele grow up to be kindly?

    Toby Tyler: Ten Weeks With a Circus

    Carl Sandburg, William S. Burroughs and Harlan Ellison all cited this as one of their favourite books from childhood, though I'll warn you the death of the kid's pet monkey is much more harrowing than most modern readers would expect.

    Five Children and It

    Strange creature in a gravel quarry grants wishes to children - pretty standard fare, but very funny all the same, particularly when they (accidentally) wish for their baby brother to be all grown up.

    I've linked to the books themselves so you can have a look.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    a thoroughly terrifying but typically brilliant story by Helen Simpson

    Jesus Christ, Jolisa, I think I needed a big flashing 'will haunt you for weeks if you are a big sook' sign ahead of clicking on that. Is there a word which goes beyond 'dystopian'?

    Another vote for The Dark is Rising books, which I looooooooooved as a kid.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3582 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    Five Children and It

    Ah, yes, I love E Nesbit.

    I'm coming to realize that a lot of my favourite books from childhood are very English (Ooo! You know who else? Lucy M Boston! Now, where was I?)

    Normally I would be inclined to say pfft, very well, then they are very English. But I have recently acquired a number of American children to give books to [*], and I can't help worrying that they might not be able to connect with a lot of these books. Is this worry well-founded?


    [*] I've recently acquired the book-giving relationship, I mean. Not the children. I don't think the cats would go for it.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 450 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Is this worry well-founded?

    Harry Potter.

    The Chrysalids

    Science fiction with children as protagonists, plus the happy ending is in New Zealand.

    Oh, John Wyndham, how I love the many ways you destroyed human civilisation. The Brits do it so much better. (Side-note: the BBC is remaking Day of the Triffids as a mini-series with Eddy Izzard. Be very afraid?)

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    I find it quite amazing that PA readers like the same books as me because of my rather catholic tastes

    Favourite Discworld characters, Quote the Raven and the Death of Rats among many

    Got a heap of books to read (as always) but rereading "Redemption Songs" is high on the pleasurable must do list
    I have been studying the Land wars, including aquiring a Snider carbine and need to check the last real fighting or rather another version

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 521 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    Harry Potter.

    yabbut

    a) Harry Potter is set in a world where everything is magical and gets plenty of explanation. Many Americans are stunned to learn that prefects, houses, house points, and so forth are not in fact original inventions of JK Rowling.

    b) EVEN SO, the editions sold in the USA are translated into American English. (The first example that comes to mind is that Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans come in 'booger'.) Though I suppose the same may end up being true of whatever other books I end up finding. Like the copy I bought a while ago of that well-loved Gerald Durrell novel called - without a word of a lie - "The Battle for Castle Cockatrice".

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 450 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    dyan - this will sound picky but I've been doing it since I was seven -
    Mr Stubbs, in "Toby Tyler", was a chimpanzee, not a monkey (though the author uses that word himself.) I only read TT because there was an ape in it. And I only went to the film version because a chimp would be in that (it was Disney; it was icky cute, and Mr Stubbs copped a classic wing shot & everyone lived happily ever after.) Yes, as a kid I was fascinated by apes (and elephants & cetaceans). Still am.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    But I have recently acquired a number of American children to give books to [*], and I can't help worrying that they might not be able to connect with a lot of these books. Is this worry well-founded?

    I think the stories are pretty universal - though I have to say the biggest difference I noticed between English and American (or Canadian) literature is the English seemed to write with a greater effort to spare the child upsetting emotions. American and Canadian authors (at least historically) seemed to relish tweaking childhood feelings of grief and loss. None of the English books came close to the tone of the Canadian or American ones in this respect.

    In Toby Tyler the depiction of Toby's pet monkey being shot, then dying horribly (Toby is too upset to let the hunter put the animal out of its misery so it dies quite slowly) is certainly not like any English book written for children I've ever read. This passage deals with how much worse this grief can be if a kid happens to be furiously angry with his elderly pet moments before he's shot...

    Beautiful Joe

    Beautiful Joe is a Canadian classic, and was somehow associated with the formation of the SPCA. My teacher sister always used to read it to her school kids, with the view that a class that weeps openly together will get along better (eliminates bullying apparently). The passages where poor Joe is mutilated as a puppy (his name is ironic) and his mother is killed by a no-account farmer are pretty alarming and horribly sad. But the cultural differences between English and North American kids are not very great.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    (Side-note: the BBC is remaking Day of the Triffids as a mini-series with Eddy Izzard. Be very afraid?)

    Not necessarily. The re-make of Survivors (whose second series debuts in the UK next month) wasn't the total bum-bang I was expecting -- and while The Riches was far from flawless, Izzard was pretty damn impressive in a 'straight' dramatic role.

    He sure seems to be having a great time playing an utter bastard here:

    What a great reading list! Like everyone else I loved Gerald Durrell's books - especially My Family and Other Animals.

    Certainly a great antidote to both the misery memoir (none of the Durrell clan are incestuous, abusive drug fiends) and the Peter Mayle school of going overseas to condescend to the natives (the Durrells are the real weirdos, but mostly harmless and actually treated pretty decently by the bemused locals).

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    dyan - this will sound picky but I've been doing it since I was seven -
    Mr Stubbs, in "Toby Tyler", was a chimpanzee, not a monkey

    Islander, why do you think that? Mr. Stubbs is too small to be a chimp - he sounds like a capucin monkey partly because he's small enough for a little boy to carry him (along with other burdens) and also to climb up and sit on Toby's shoulder. A chimp would be the same size as a small boy. Besides - Toby is in an American circus, so it's unlikely they would have chimps (from Africa) but likely they would have monkeys (from Central America).

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    EVEN SO, the editions sold in the USA are translated into American English. (The first example that comes to mind is that Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans come in 'booger'.)

    And the first book was released in America as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", because (Wikipedia):

    Fearing that American readers would not associate the word "philosopher" with a magical theme (although the Philosopher's Stone is alchemy-related), Scholastic insisted that the book be given the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the American market.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    What a great reading list! Like everyone else I loved Gerald Durrell's books - especially My Family and Other Animals.

    Certainly a great antidote to both the misery memoir

    As an a character on an American sitcom once said when someone tried to make him read Angela's Ashes "I don't need to read it... it's an Irish novel, I know how it goes.... " (screwing up his face and whining) I'm starving - Dad's drunk ".

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    Jolisa, and anyone else planning to read The Little Stranger be warned, it's really scary! It's completely different in tone to her other novels, and I unwisely sat up late a few nights trying in vain to get to a less-terrifying bit, and consequently went to bed all wide-eyed and jumpy! I finished it on a sunny afternoon, and the book made me feel shivery despite the sunshine!

    In hindsight I could see how cleverly Sarah Waters had put the whole thing together, and how one could see it as allegory, and so on, but I can't say I enjoyed reading it.

    The book I'm reading at the moment actually came out last year, but I'd never seen it: CUP's Land very fertile: Banks Peninsula in poetry and prose. It's an ecletic mix of different types of writing, both fiction and non-fiction, but they go surprisingly well together.

    Having said that, my favourite single thing so far is Fiona Farrell's poem Falling in Love on the Way Home which is also here. :-D

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    dyan - the illustrations in the book I read (just checked with the utterly-infallible Wikipedia and the article there has "Mr Stubbs, the chimpanzee etc.)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    As an a character on an American sitcom once said when someone tried to make him read Angela's Ashes "I don't need to read it... it's an Irish novel, I know how it goes.... " (screwing up his face and whining) I'm starving - Dad's drunk ".

    "Ma's a loony and when I'm not getting beaten by sexually repressed nuns, I'm being arse-raped by the parish priest before sending my girlfriend down the nearest alley to have an abortion."

    You should try Bill Watkins who cheerfully takes the piss out of the more... lachrymose, self-piteous and plain stupid reaches of the Celtic heritage industry. I still remember a memorably salty turn with Kim Hill, where he expressed his loathing for Frank McCourt in no uncertain terms.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaire BookieMonster,

    Jolisa, and anyone else planning to read The Little Stranger be warned, it's really scary!

    I know you said you didn't enjoy it, but this made me Yay-clappity! Maybe because I like a bit of darkness in my summer holiday, or something.

    At the foot of Mt Te Aroh… • Since Nov 2009 • 173 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    Thanks Grace, The Little Stranger is indeed on my reading list. I loved The Night Watch, but this sounds like something else again. Forewarned, forearmed etc.
    At a complete tangent, does anyone have a really good figgy pudding recipe?

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Reading Jingo right now - Hogfather likewise set up as essential Christmas reading.

    Favourite Disc characters? All the stock favourites, of course, but I'd have to put a mention in for Otto von Chriek (as first seen in The Truth ) and the classic keystone cops pairing of Sergeant Colon and Corporal Nobbs...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1549 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver,

    Jolisa, and anyone else planning to read The Little Stranger be warned, it's really scary!

    Ah yes - scary enough that once we got on to the particular characteristics of the house itself I got far too scared and had to stop reading. End of story for me! And I would count Night Watch as one of my preferred reads of last year, so there you go. Definitely the story not the author.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 329 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    Carol: glad you're 4-armed, I've always thought that would come in handy, arf arf ;-)

    webweaver: I read The Little Stranger after my sister abandoned her copy at my house. She didn't exactly give it to me...she showed it to me and told me it was scary and grim and then seemed disinclined to take it away with her!

    It's one of those books I'm quite glad to have read, though. As a portrait of disintegrating gentry and middle-class aspiration it's second-to-none.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    One of my favourite books this year has been When will there be good news? by Kate Atkinson. It follows on from her previous novels Case Histories and One Good Turn but it's quite different to both. Although they're novels about crime, they're not exactly crime novels... One Good Turn is hysterically funny while also being sad; Case Histories is like a whodunit in which finding out who did it doesn't help at all; When will there be good news? is like a thriller, but it also had me laughing out loud and weeping buckets, sometimes simultaneously.

    These are the sort of books that make me want to clap when I get to the end.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    Oh and I forgot to say, thanks heaps Jolisa for all your reviews and recommendations! And everyone here on PAS who is recommending books, I will be excitedly seeking out some of these titles....

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    dyan - the illustrations in the book I read (just checked with the utterly-infallible Wikipedia and the article there has "Mr Stubbs, the chimpanzee etc.)

    The edition I read didn't have illustrations.

    There are descriptions of Mr. Stubbs being carried (along with his satchel of possessions) for a distance by Toby, as well as descriptions of Mr. Stubbs sitting on the boy's shoulder as well as several references to his "little paws" that would suggest Toby's friend is a whole lot smaller than a chimp. A full grown chimp is about 5'6" and 150 lbs.

    A lot of books wind up with illustrations that were not necessarily what the author was writing about. The little boy and teddy bear in Winnie the Pooh aren't Milne's (regrettably homely) son, but E.H. Shepherd's own (much cuter) child and his bear.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

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