Nina Bawden

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid Lit 2016 – The Round Up

Published January 1, 2017 by bibliobeth

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Image from http://www.parentspartner.com/childrens-literature/

Hello everyone and welcome to Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2016 The Round Up where we’ll be talking about our highlights (and lowlights) of our Kid Lit year. As always, we’ve read some fantastic books and series, some of which we will be continuing into 2017. Please find below all the books we read and the links to my reviews. For Chrissi’s reviews the link will be at the bottom of each original post.

JANUARY- The Demon Headmaster- Gillian Cross

FEBRUARY- Carrie’s War- Nina Bawden

MARCH- The Boy In The Dress- David Walliams

APRIL- Noble Conflict- Malorie Blackman

MAY- The Horse and His Boy- C.S Lewis

JUNE- The Borrowers- Mary Norton

JULY- Maggot Moon- Sally Gardner

AUGUST- Looking For JJ- Anne Cassidy

SEPTEMBER – The Wolves of Willoughby Chase-Joan Aiken

OCTOBER- Ballet Shoes- Noel Streatfeild

NOVEMBER- A Series of Unfortunate Events- Lemony Snicket 

DECEMBER- The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair- Lara Williamson

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

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2016 and why?
BETH: Tough choice this year as there were a few books I really, really loved. If I had to choose one though it would be The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase. Totally surprised me with how much I enjoyed it and it had such a classic, old-time feel to it which was fantastic.
CHRISSI: Mine would be The Wolves of Willoughby Chase or The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair. I can’t pick… sorry! Both had such charm.
2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2016 and why?
BETH: Hmmm…..Ballet Shoes. Definitely the most disappointing. I struggled to get through it if I’m honest and got a bit bored about halfway through.
CHRISSI: I would say Ballet Shoes as well. I really thought it would be a book that I loved because I’m a massive fan of books that involve dance and love that era, but no, it wasn’t for me.
3) What was the Kid-Lit book of 2016 that surprised you the most?
BETH: The Horse And His Boy for sure. I didn’t have fond memories of it as a child. In fact, it was my least favourite of all the Narnia books. I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t as bad as I remembered and I actually really enjoyed it!
CHRISSI: It would be Looking for JJ for me as I didn’t expect to be as gripped as I was by the story. I devoured it!
4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2016?
BETH: I fell completely under the spell of Lara Williamson after reading The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair and would really love to read her debut novel A Boy Called Hope.
CHRISSI: I will definitely continue with the Percy Jackson series. I don’t know if I can wait each kid-lit year to read the series though!

For anyone who reads these posts, thank you so much for your continued support, we love doing this challenge and hope to continue it indefinitely. Coming tomorrow – the big reveal for Kid-Lit 2017! Which titles made it this year? And which titles are we going to have to do er…. another year?!

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2016 – FEBRUARY READ – Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden

Published February 28, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

It is the Second World War and Carrie and Nick are evacuated from London to a small town in Wales, where they are placed with strict Mr Evans and his timid mouse of a sister. Their friend Albert is luckier, living in Druid’s Bottom with Hepzibah Green who tells wonderful stories, and the strange Mister Johnny, who speaks a language all of his own.

What did I think?:

Carrie’s War was an absolute must for our Kid Lit challenge in 2016 as I was determined this was the year I was finally going to read it. What a surprise I got to find that I remembered certain parts of the book as I came across them – yes, I had already read it! Goodness knows when, but as I read it for the second time some sections felt very familiar and others very new. From the synopsis, you assume it’s going to be another one of those “war books,” involving children, similar to War Horse by Michael Morpurgo and The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. In essence it is – it tells the story of Carrie and her little brother Nick and their new friend Albert Sandwich as they are all evacuated from London on the train to the countryside in Wales as it is presumed a safer place to be. To be honest, not a whole lot more is mentioned about the war so if you are hoping for gas masks, bombs dropping and horrific carnage, this is perhaps not the book for you.

Carrie’s War is a compelling read in a completely different way. It focuses on how Carrie and Nick settle into their new home with the religious and very strict Mr Evans and his quiet, fearful sister (who they quickly become comfortable with and call Auntie Lou). Carrie and Nick find it very difficult to please Mr Evans who insists on rules and behaving with the utmost decorum and find refuge with their friend Albert’s hosts who live in a magical place called Druid’s Bottom. This is actually the home of Mr Evans sister Mrs Gotobed, whom funnily enough is bed-bound, very ill and expected to die soon. Hepzibah Green, her maid, looks after her, runs the household, looks after the animals on the farm and takes care of Mister Johnny, a young boy who is unlike anyone Carrie and Nick have ever met before and although he frightens them initially, they soon develop a strong bond.

Hepzibah and Auntie Lou are provided as motherly figures that Carrie and Nick lack being evacuees and away from their own family. Almost immediately, it becomes a real treat to visit Druid’s Bottom to help out with the chores, eat amazing home-cooked food and hear Hepzibah’s stories. One in particular involves a skull that has an ancient and terrifying history and is of utmost importance to the story when an adult Carrie returns with her own children and reminisces about her time in the country and a “terrible thing she did.”

There are a lot of things in this novel to love. It was such an interesting reading experience for me as I remembered some things so clearly – like when the children first happen upon Mister Johnny while some things felt entirely new, like the children’s relationship with Mr Evans which goes to a completely different level when his sister, Mrs Gotobed passes away. I think it’s a brilliant story to read as an introduction to the Second World War and the variety and diversity of characters is very commendable and something I think children will enjoy. I especially loved Mister Johnny and his wonderful language all of his own (gobble, gobble) and although I felt a bit frustrated with Carrie at times, she emerged as a great heroine and role model. I’m already a big fan of Nina Bawden after her amazing book for adults The Ice House and I can’t wait to read more of her work, kid-lit or otherwise!

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

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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Image from http://www.radiotimes.com/episode/jrvw9/carries-war

Carrie’s War was turned into a BBC adaptation starring Pauline Quirke as Hepzibah Green in 2004.

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit – The Titles For 2016 Revealed!

Published January 1, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Image from http://uweb.cas.usf.edu/~dslone/Pathfinders/weber.htm

Welcome 2016! Welcome to a new year of Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit. Without further ado, here are the titles we have chosen for the year ahead:

JANUARY- The Demon Headmaster- Gillian Cross

FEBRUARY- Carrie’s War- Nina Bawden

MARCH- The Boy In The Dress- David Walliams

APRIL- Noble Conflict- Malorie Blackman

MAY- The Horse and His Boy- C.S Lewis

JUNE- The Borrowers- Mary Norton

JULY- Maggot Moon- Sally Gardner

AUGUST- Looking For JJ- Anne Cassidy

SEPTEMBER – The Wolves of Willoughby Chase-Joan Aiken

OCTOBER- Ballet Shoes- Noel Streatfeild

NOVEMBER- A Series of Unfortunate Events- Lemony Snicket 

DECEMBER- The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair- Lara Williamson

Like last year, we’ve picked a mixture of “classic,” children’s literature and some newer titles. I’m really looking forward to re-visiting one of my old favourites, The Demon Headmaster and continuing the Narnia series with The Horse And His Boy. I also can’t wait to read titles such as Carrie’s War which I’ve been meaning to read for so long and Ballet Shoes which I’ve heard a lot of good things about. What do you think of our titles? Have you read any of these? Which do you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

The Ice House – Nina Bawden

Published September 1, 2013 by bibliobeth

The Ice House

What’s it all about?:

At fifteen, Daisy, confident and cherished, is appalled to hear that Ruth’s father locked her in the old garden ice house as a childhood punishment: no wonder her friend shelters in make believe. The revelation of that primitive cruelty cements a friendship in which protection plays no small part. Years later, middle aged, they remain close friends and live on the same street. So when Daisy’s husband dies suddenly, Ruth’s discovery that the marriage was unhappy is the first stage in the unravelling of the certainties she has wrapped around her adult life. Friendship, love, marriage and, above all, the scorching effects of adultery, come under the microscope in this dextrous novel. Journeying from a terrifying suburban household to its unexpected conclusion in the Egyptian Pharaoh’s tombs, The Ice House is startling, tragic and humorous by turns.
What did I think?:
This is the story of two friends, Daisy who is confident, alluring and popular, and her friend Ruth, who is quieter, and a slightly mysterious child with an aura of sadness which Daisy cannot quite understand. As children, Daisy is never invited to her friends house, and always wonders why until the one time she is invited and everything about Ruth’s character slots into place and makes sense. As adults, they both appear to be happily married, until Daisy’s husband is killed in a horrific accident one night. Ruth finds her friend’s reaction to her husband’s death peculiar and shocking, as she assumed they were happy. Slowly, secrets come tumbling out and Ruth finds herself looking to her own life, marriage, and happiness and asking questions that she may not want the answers to.
This is the first Nina Bawden novel I have read as an adult, she is also famed for her brilliant children’s novels, amongst them Carrie’s War and The Peppermint Pig which I remember vividly from my childhood, so I was looking forward to exploring her adult fiction, and wasn’t disappointed. The Ice House is a very simple, but at the same time an incredibly complex novel about human interactions – friendship, love and marriage, and the darker side of these relationships. Not many of the characters in it are instantly likeable nor do we warm to many as the story continues, although I had a slight soft spot for Ruth. For me however, that is the sign of a good book – if we dislike a character that much then hasn’t the author done their job?
I have to admit, I did know what was going on from the start, it appeared obvious but I’m not sure if this was meant by the author. This did not spoil my enjoyment of the novel though, as I just loved her writing style, and the sense of intimacy I got from it. It was almost like the author and I were two friends watching the drama unfold, while being privy to all the insider gossip and secrets. I do agree with those reviewers that it was a slightly anti-climatic ending however, which was a shame, as the author had completely carried my attention until then. But I can’t wait to read more!
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
 four-stars_0