Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2014 – The Round Up

Published January 11, 2015 by bibliobeth

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2014 was the second year that Chrissi and I rolled out our Kid-Lit challenge. Again, it was a really fun thing to do which we both thoroughly enjoyed. Please see below for the links to my reviews and check out Chrissi’s blog HERE for her fabulous reviews.

JANUARY – Aesop’s Fables by Aesop

FEBRUARY – Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There – Lewis Carroll

MARCH – Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

APRIL – The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis

MAY – Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie

JUNE – The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame

JULY – The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz – L. Frank Baum

AUGUST – The Swiss Family Robinson – Johann Wyss

SEPTEMBER – Swallows And Amazons – Arthur Ransome

OCTOBER – Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

NOVEMBER – White Fang – Jack London

DECEMBER – The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

So, in the style of the “Talking About…” reviews we normally do, we thought we’d answer a quick few questions about our second year of blogging in Kid-Lit.

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2014 and why?
BETH: I am totally torn between three… Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden. I was delighted to find that I loved all three as an adult as much (if not more) than I loved them as a child. Little Women is an undeniable classic, Anne is just one of those characters you completely fall in love with and I love the style of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s storytelling.
CHRISSI: Little Women. When Little Women is an option out of books, I’m always going to mention it. Oh yes!
2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2014 and why?
BETH: I think it would have to be The Swiss Family Robinson I’m afraid. I was bitterly disappointed with this book and expected so much more from it. Some passages sent me into complete boredom and it felt slightly too “preachy” for my liking.
CHRISSI: I’m the same as Beth for this answer. Unfortunately I found The Swiss Family Robinson DIRE! Such a shame.
3) What was the Kid-Lit book that surprised you the most?
BETH: Perhaps The Magician’s Nephew. This was one of my old favourites from childhood (along with the rest of the Narnia series) and there were whole parts of the story that I had forgotten so it was exciting to re-read and remember them all over again.
CHRISSI: Anne of Green Gables. I hadn’t read it prior to this challenge and I was surprised at how charming it was.
4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2013?
BETH: Once again, the writing of Frances Hodgson Burnett has made me long to read another of her books – perhaps we can put her on the list for 2016 Chrissi? Otherwise, I think I’m definitely going to read The Making Of A Marchioness this year.
CHRISSI: Oh yes. Let’s read more of Frances Hodgson Burnett! ❤

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2014 – DECEMBER READ – The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Published December 31, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

What secrets lie behind the doors at Misselthwaite Manor? Recently arrived at her uncle’s estate, orphaned Mary Lennox is spoiled, sickly, and certain she won’t enjoy living there. Then she discovers the arched doorway into an overgrown garden, shut up since the death of her aunt ten years earlier. Mary soon begins transforming it into a thing of beauty–unaware that she is changing too. But Misselthwaite hides another secret, as Mary discovers one night. High in a dark room, away from the rest of the house, lies her young cousin, Colin, who believes he is an incurable invalid, destined to die young. His tantrums are so frightful, no one can reason with him. If only, Mary hopes, she can get Colin to love the secret garden as much as she does, its magic will work wonders on him.

What did I think?:

The Secret Garden is the last title in the Kid-Lit Challenge for 2014 and I am so pleased that it was picked, I know it’s also a big favourite of Chrissi’s. I was slightly concerned as always, that re-reading it as an adult would dampen some of its charm but luckily that was definitely not the case! Our main character is Mary Lennox, a ten year old girl whom when we meet her is living in India with her mother and a host of servants including her personal Ayah who she treats abominably. For Mary is selfish, spoilt and used to getting her own way and when she doesn’t – well, the people around her certainly know about it. Even playing with other children in the area fares no better as Mary is equally rotten to them causing them to tease and name her “Mistress Mary, quite contrary.” Then a bout of cholera sweeps over the household, taking the servants and Mary’s mother with it, leaving her forgotten about and orphaned in her rooms until someone happens upon her (in quite a tantrum for having being left alone) and sends her to her uncle’s home in England.

Mr Craven of Misselthwaite Manor in Yorkshire is a peculiar character and one Mary feels slightly wary of as she is told by the housekeeper, Mrs Medlock, that he is not to be disturbed and quite frankly, is not really bothered about her being in his keep. Therefore, she is to amuse herself. But with no access to books, toys, etc and finding out from the servant Martha who sweeps her fire each morning that she is to dress herself (horror upon horrors), the only thing to do is to get out in the fresh air and wander through the gardens of the property. There she comes into contact with Ben Weatherstaff, the surly yet lovable head gardener and it is through him that she makes her first friend, a wonderful little robin. This robin has no fear of the old gardener and to Mary’s delight, often alights at his feet while Ben talks to it as if it were you or me in his broad Yorkshire accent. Through Ben and Martha, whose chatter she comes to quite enjoy, she learns the sad story behind Misselthwaite Manor. The mistress of the house, Mrs Craven, died while quite young and since then Mr Craven has never been the same, caught up in grief and often confining himself to his rooms. She once had a glorious garden, but when she died, Mr Craven angrily locked the door and buried the key so no one else could enjoy it. Mary finds herself caught up with the romance and sadness of the story and one morning, while chattering away to her new robin friend, he begins digging in the earth close to a wall in which she is certain lies the forgotten garden. Lo and behold, he uncovers the key and Mary is able to enter the “secret” garden for the first time.

Mary doesn’t know a whole lot about gardening but is desperate to do something with her little secret haven so confides in Martha that she would quite like to learn a bit about gardens and how to keep them. Martha is pleased that a transformation of sorts seems to be happening with Mary and that she no longer seems so surly or mean-faced so she introduces her to her brother Dickon, who knows everything there is to know about how things grow. Dickon is a fascinating character and although Mary has never had a friend in her life, the two like each other instantly and revel in the joy of their secret garden. Dickon teaches Mary how to plant and grow seeds and seems to be a regular Dr Doolittle with an animal friend constantly in tow, including a crow, two squirrels, a fox cub and a newborn lamb. This isn’t the end of the story however, we still have an interesting character to meet. After Mary hears crying in the night and is fobbed off by the staff whom she knows to be hiding something, she happens upon a boy lying in bed. It turns out he is Colin, son of her uncle, whom when born was weak and seemed destined to be a cripple or a hunchback. He keeps to his bed, constantly fearing a lump appearing upon his back with frequent hysterical and demanding fits, determined that he is not long for this world. It is only with Mary and Dickon’s help and the magic of the secret garden that he is able to appreciate life once more. As a result, his father Mr Craven also may once again know the joy that he has missed.

This is a beautiful story by Frances Hodgson Burnett and definitely one of my favourite children’s classics. It was wonderful to find out that it has stood the test of time and I think children today would still enjoy either reading it themselves or listening to it being read. The main character Mary goes on quite a dramatic journey as a person and it was lovely to see her transformation from a blatantly horrible little creature to an enthusiastic, passionate, kind and giving child as the book nears its end. I also enjoyed that it had its morals and messages but they were fairly subtle rather than being pushed or preached to as you can sometimes find in certain classic novels. And who doesn’t love a story with animals in? The addition of the friendly robin, crow, fox etc was a great touch by the author and one in which I think would appeal to many children. Basically, I can’t find much wrong with this timeless children’s story and I’m even now looking forward to when I decide to re-read it again!

For Chrissi’s fab review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Look out for Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit in 2015, titles to be revealed tomorrow!

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit – the titles for 2014

Published January 9, 2014 by bibliobeth

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Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit is a monthly feature I began with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads last year. We both chose six books each to represent the twelve months of the year and resolved to read and review one a month. We enjoyed doing it so much last year that we wanted to carry on the challenge for 2014, so without any further ado, here are the twelve lucky titles!

JANUARY – Aesop’s Fables by Aesop

FEBRUARY – Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There – Lewis Carroll

MARCH – Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

APRIL – The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis

MAY – Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie

JUNE – The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame

JULY – The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz – L. Frank Baum

AUGUST – The Swiss Family Robinson – Johann Wyss

SEPTEMBER – Swallows And Amazons – Arthur Ransome

OCTOBER – Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

NOVEMBER – White Fang – Jack London

DECEMBER – The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit 2013 – The Round-Up

Published January 6, 2014 by bibliobeth

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2013 is over, and so is our Kid-Lit challenge but I think I can speak for us both when I say we both really enjoyed it. Here are the twelve books we read with the links to my reviews! Please check out Chrissi’s blog HERE for her fabulous reviews.

JANUARY – Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

FEBRUARY – The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley

MARCH – The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

APRIL – Stig of the Dump by Clive King

MAY – Heidi by Johanna Spyri

JUNE – A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

JULY – Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

AUGUST – The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat

SEPTEMBER – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

OCTOBER – Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

NOVEMBER – Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

DECEMBER – The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

So, in the style of the “Talking About…” reviews we normally do, we thought we’d answer a quick few questions about our first year blogging in Kid-Lit.

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2013 and why?
BETH: This is tough, there were quite a few that I really enjoyed. I think it would have to be A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, simply because I had forgotten how beautiful the story was.
CHRISSI: This is a tough question. I’m torn between two that I thoroughly enjoyed. They are The Railway Children and A Little Princess. I think I’d have to go for A Little Princess, because it just gave me such a lovely warm feeling when I read it. The writing is beautiful.
2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2013 and why?
BETH: There were a couple that also fitted this category! Probably The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley as I found it quite odd, and was bitterly disappointed by the story in general.
CHRISSI: We seem to have similar answers Beth! Mine would be Children Of The New Forest though. I was disappointed with it. I really thought I’d enjoy it! The Water Babies was an odd read.
3) What was the Kid-Lit book that surprised you the most?
BETH: This has to be Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I loved the imagination behind this story, and some of his ideas (like having your own personal daemon) just blew me away. That reminds me, I must put the second book on my Coming Up list soon!
CHRISSI: I was surprised at how long Oliver Twist was. I think I’m so used to the film which condensed the book quite a bit.
4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2013?
BETH: I have! After The Little Princess, I decided to look into what else Frances Hodgson Burnett has written, as I know only of this book. I then went on a trip to Persephone Books in London, and found a copy of her novel The Making of A Marchioness, which I am looking forward to getting round to at some point!
CHRISSI: I want to read more of Frances Hodgson Burnett. Other than that I don’t think I’d read books from the same authors, besides Dickens, who I will hopefully read more of on the future. It has made me want to continue this challenge, and also think about other features around children’s literature!
Coming soon…. (Thursday to be exact) Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit – The Twelve Titles for 2014!

New Findings – Persephone Books

Published July 5, 2013 by bibliobeth

I love finding new bookshops, and I was thrilled when Book Lovers London directed me to this beautiful little place, just a short walk from Russell Square Tube Station. Persephone books sells forgotten pieces of fiction and non-fiction, mostly from women authors, but the occasional male element creeps in as well. There are 102 books in the Persephone collection so far, with a view to publishing two more with the change of every season.

The books can be purchased by mail order or in the store, but ten Persephone Classics are available in all good bookshops. The list of authors includes Frances Hodgson Burnett, Monica Dickens, Helen Hull, Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy Whipple and Virginia Woolf to name a few. The books are beautifully presented in grey covers with an individual end paper design for each book that is in some way connected with the theme.  For example, for one of the books I purchased, The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the theme is 1901 figured cotton called “Tulips,” which is “simple, cheerful and graceful.”

Why Persephone? “it has a timeless quality; sounds beautiful; is very obviously feminine; and symbolises new beginnings (and fertility) as well as female creativity…But mainly she is an image of women’s creativity, and that is why our logo, based on a painting on a Greek amphora, shows a woman who is not only reading (the scroll) but also symbolises domesticity (the goose).”

And is also the goddess of the Underworld…..

What did I buy?

The Making of A Marchioness – Frances Hodgson Burnett (a Persephone Classic)

The World That Was Ours – Hilda Bernstein (a Persephone Classic)

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day – Winifred Watson (a Persephone Classic and their bestseller)

The Persephone Book of Short Stories – Various (Persephone’s 100th Book)

The link to their website can be found HERE.

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit – JUNE READ – A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Published June 26, 2013 by bibliobeth

A Little Princess

What’s it all about?:

Sara Crewe, an exceptionally intelligent and imaginative student at Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies, is devastated when her adored, indulgent father dies. Now penniless and banished to a room in the attic, Sara is demeaned, abused, and forced to work as a servant. How this resourceful girl’s fortunes change again is at the center of A Little Princess, one of the best-loved stories in all of children’s literature.

What did I think?:

A Little Princess is the June read for the Kid-Lit Challenge I participate in with Chrissi and is her choice, as she fondly remembers it from our childhood. The classic story introduces us to Sara Crewe, brought up in India with her wealthy father who decides to send her to school in England so she can get the best education possible. Sara does not want for anything, and her kind and generous father lavishes her with gifts, leading the other little girls at the school to envy and admire her, giving her the title of “princess.” Sadly, this does not last long when her father dies, and Sara becomes penniless. The evil Miss Minchin, ruler of the school, reduces her to little more than a slave, confiscating all her beautiful gifts as payment for her keep, treating her like a skivvy by giving her numerous errands to run, and making her sleep in a cold, uncomfortable attic. When an Indian gentlemen moves into the house across from the school, is there a chance Sara’s fortunes could change?

I didn’t realise how much I loved this story until I read it as an adult. It is beautifully told, with a wonderful heroine that children can look up to and emulate and a host of morals that we can all learn a little something from. I especially enjoyed Sara’s world of make-believe and trusting in a bit of “magic,” to get through the struggles she faces in everyday life. Throughout it all, Sara remains a model for humanity, remaining humble, kind and generous to others, and childishly optimistic for the future creating a world of “pretend” that she can fall back on and escape to. I highly recommend this book as a classic piece of children’s literature that is an absolute joy to read.

Please see my sister Chrissi’s fabulous review HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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WWW Wednesday #8

Published June 26, 2013 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

It’s WWW Wednesday time again! Thanks to MizB at Should Be Reading for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?

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The first in the Inspector McLean series, this crime novel based in Edinburgh is on the Richard and Judy Summer Book Club 2013 list – see my previous post HERE. I’m about 25% through, and liking what I read so far.

What did you recently finish reading?:

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I read this book as part of my “Kid-Lit” challenge I am participating in with my sister. Absolutely beautiful story – if you haven’t read it, it gets a big thumbs up from me. Review to be posted very soon!

What do you think you’ll read next?:

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This is another one of those novels I have been meaning to read for ages. It won the Man Booker Prize in 1990, and I’m really looking forward to it. Hoping it doesn’t disappoint as I wasn’t a huge fan of her novel The Children’s Book.

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please feel free to leave your link and I’ll visit you and have a nosey at your books. Happy Reading Everyone!