Monthly Archives: February 2008

Dina’s target

I have good news for you. The fund raising event last Sunday in London, which was inspired by Dina Rabinovitch, was very successful indeed. They raised £8700 with their Kosher Komedy, which means that Dina’s target of £100,000 has now been reached with a good margin. At the moment it stands at £109,913. There is until the end of February to donate, so any spare cash lying around would find a good home here.

I’ve been sent a brief video from the event, which I understand was great. I’d have wanted to be there.


Or stats. If I’d known that Declan over on Crime Always Pays was that close to 40,000, I’d have spent all Wednesday sitting there waiting for the stat counter to reach the magic number. As it was, by the time I called round it was 40,059, which is a terribly unround figure.

Anyway, congratulations Declan. And I hope you have no thoughts of retiring, because I need something to make me smile some days. (It’s just that that “speech” you wrote there, sounded like a retirement speech. Don’t you dare.)

And I’m just a little jealous. But I’m not that far behind. Honestly.

The graphic Alex Rider

Can you have too much Alex Rider? As I’ve said before, we quite like him around these parts. Like so many other fast paced stories, Stormbreaker was made into a film. It was OK, though I’m not sure how well it did, as I’ve not come across any evidence that there are more films on the way.

I’ve just been road testing two graphic novels about Alex. Stormbreaker is exactly like the film, rather than the book. The changes made to the plot, etc, for the film are in the graphic novel as well. That’s not necessarily bad – just interesting. It probably made the job easier to take the film almost frame by frame.

Talking about taking – that’s what happened to the book once it got here. You’d think Daughter would have had enough with book and film, but oh, no. Alex Rider quietly disappeared off the kitchen table, and I only found him a week later. When I did, I carried him back downstairs, only to find him gone again (if you can say that). The Resident IT Consultant is not the type to read comics, so what was he doing with Alex? (Rumour has it that when he was six and got put on the train to Glasgow to visit his grandmother, he was given some money to buy the Beano, or equivalent. It appears that he was found with a copy of The Times.)

Point Blanc carries on in much the same vein, though as I have no film to compare it with, I don’t know how they decided to adapt it. One thing that feels a little wrong is that both Alex and Sabina look far too young. More like twelve than fourteen. But even the cynical witch found it quite addictive. That could be why this book also disappeared. I warned him that it was not to be taken out of my sight, so he read it standing right next to me. It could be that if he had read the Beano that time long ago, he wouldn’t have needed Alex Rider. On the other hand, the witch bought two comics regularly during her teens. No serious side effects.

Katie Morag

I got so carried away with the idea of picture books, that I went straight on to Katie Morag and the Dancing Class, by Mairi Hedderwick.

I just love Katie Morag, and have done for years. There are some advantages with having children, after all, and reading good books to them must be one. Whereas I can’t stop myself from reading older children’s fiction for my own pleasure, I tend not to with books for much younger readers. Daughter turned up soon after I’d finished reading this one, and exclaimed “I love Katie Morag!” So, we’ve got something in common. This 15-year-old read the book twice, and then inquired where her other Katie Morag books had got to. (The witch carefully saved them from a clean out long ago.)

This time both of Katie Morag’s Grannies have decided that she’s to have dancing lessons. Katie Morag feels a little differently about it, as she should. Katie Morag has some nice avoidance techniques which have to be admired, but as usual it all ends well.

Talking of admiration, Mairi’s illustrations are utterly perfect. I’m sure all the adults reading her books wish they were there, on the Isle of Struay with Katie Morag. I can hear the sea, and I can smell it, too.

And if I need to be someone, I’ll be Grannie Island.

Lift companions

By my reckoning Jeanne Willis has shared lifts with some strange creatures in her time. That includes the bookwitch, and you don’t get much stranger than that. She tells me she remembers people from lifts particularly well, and puts them in her books. Look out for the bookwitch picture book. I’ve asked to be made really scary. (As I am.) Or maybe Jeanne was just pulling my leg?

After professing my ignorance about Jeanne’s books, I have hurriedly made improvements in that area, and first out are some picture books. It’s been a long time since I read picture books. It’s been a fairly long time since I read them to Offspring. But, it’s actually fun. It’s poetry, too.

There’s Grill Pan Eddy, a much hated mouse. He refuses to die. At least to begin with. Lovely pictures by Tony Ross, in a very Tony Ross-y kind of style. It’s happy and sad and happy.

Who’s in the Loo? Good question, and it’s one we often ask ourselves. There’s nothing quite like a queue for the toilet. I’ve learnt some new, poetic words for what you do in the loo, which will most likely come in useful one day. Pictures by Adrian Reynolds.

And last, a very romantic story, Tadpole’s Promise. It’s a love affair between a tadpole and a caterpillar, and it’s not easy for either of them. More great pictures by Tony Ross, to accompany the sad business of young love.

February half term

is now over. It’s been the first one spent in Sweden for four years.

Skallkroken, Haverdal

The fact that it happens so rarely is the reason we allow ourselves to pig out on the Shrove Tuesday buns mentioned earlier. (Like hot cross buns which appear in UK shops soon after Christmas, these “one day wonders” are available at least throughout February and March.) I reckon a bun a day is permissible for a week, seeing as the week happens less frequently than once a year.

Semlor - Shrove Tuesday buns

It being winter and cold and dark, we’ve not only had plenty of time to read, but the witch played the Shakespeare game for the first time. It’s described as The Bard Game, which is a dreadful pun, when you think of it. I understood virtually nothing, but the others did fine. It helps if you know your Shakespeare, and it helps if you understand the rules. So there’s always next time…

A favourite holiday read is the pizza takeaway menu. Swedish pizzas are THE BEST. Along with the aforementioned buns, the pizzas have to be eaten often, during a short visit. Son even pondered the viability of packing some to take home, which really would make it a takeaway.

The Resident IT Consultant happened upon a radio reading of Goodnight Mister Tom on his way to the baker’s, although not in the right language for him. But he felt it was appropriate anyway, seeing as we have been peeking at Michelle Magorian’s latest book.

In an effort to compensate the neighbours for looking after the witch’s abode, we invited them to dinner one evening. And they came bearing gifts! Without knowing of the witch’s love for tulips and the colour purple, they brought purple tulips. And a copy of the first Stieg Larsson. I think I’m destined to read that book. The giver mumbled something about doing what the grandchildren said, so the assumption has to be that “everyone” talks about Stieg’s books.

Tulips and Stieg Larsson

At the request of Daughter we revisited the little cottage in the woods where you can buy 300 varieties of sweets. Son filled his bag so full it nearly burst. It was more exciting making our way there this time, as it was getting dark, and there’s always the question whether you’ll make it out of the woods again.

In Saturday’s paper there was a supplement with this year’s book sale catalogue. I always forget this Swedish February madness, and will report back later.

I’ve mentioned the paperback section in the local supermarket before. These books are displayed with the bread, which I find an interesting idea. But why not? As you agonise over what to make your sandwiches with, you might as well pick a book to read.

Books Ankaret 2<!–

And that’s not all that’s displayed with bread in this shop. We were intrigued to find that Blitzen had dropped in as well.


House arrest; the possibility of

My excellent blogging colleague in Edinburgh, Cornflower, was writing about TBR piles the other week. That’s To Be Read, for those of you lucky enough not to be afflicted by one, or several, of these.

I have a fairly intricate system, which fails no more often than once a week, or thereabouts. I shift the books around, and some inevitably find themselves inching (centimetreing?) further and further in the wrong direction.

But then you never know when the supply will dry up. You need to hang on to most of your books, read and still-to-be-read, just in case.

In case of what? Well, from some point during my impressionable youth, I’ve always felt I needed to be prepared for the eventualities of house arrest. I’m not sure how likely this is, but being a wee bit superstitious, I feel that a generous TBR supply will at the very least ward off the house arrest likelihood. And if not – I’ll have something to read.