Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Royal Baby

I came across this Royal Baby picture book by sheer coincidence… (No, I didn’t.) I’m beginning to think that you can’t have too many royal baby books. I’m beginning to think it’s amazing how different royal baby books can be from each other (and we all know who it is about, really).

Tony Bradman & Tony Ross, The Royal Baby

This one by the two Tonys – Bradman and Ross – is really very lovely. The royal couple are pretty lovely too, and they remind me of, well, of Kate and Will. But they are not them, obviously. I’m very partial to Tony Ross’s pictures. And Tony Bradman has written the sweetest little baby story.

It starts with the wedding, which is a good place to start. Afterwards people begin to ask if there is ever going to be a baby. Eventually there is some good news, although the Prince looks somewhat embarrassed.

There’s speculation on what the baby will be like. The Prince and Princess feel they will love their baby no matter what, and that it won’t do if the baby is too strong, sporty, musical, clever, or above all, too hairy.

A normal baby will be just fine. And so it is, gender neutral onesie and everything.

Oh baby!

At last! We have a royal baby. We also have loads of baby picture books for some reason.

Joanna Rivard and Adam Larkum, A Royal Fairytale

Before there can be a baby, you need romance. (Sort of. Usually.) A Royal Fairytale, Kate & William by Joanna Rivard and Adam Larkum deals very nicely with the royal romance.

Told in traditional fairytale style there is a prince and a beautiful girl, and they are all lonely before they go to university (now, that’s not such a common ingredient) and meet and fall in love. There is a wedding. Finally the stork calls

and they live happily ever after.

(I’m OK with the stork. I’m fine with the corgi. But the sheep? Have I missed something?)

Once you have your baby, you need for it to sleep. There are helicopters to fly and countries to rule. Everybody needs some rest.

Martha Mumford and Ada Grey, Shhh! Don't Wake the Royal Baby!

But the baby in Martha Mumford’s and Ada Grey’s Shhh! Don’t Wake the Royal Baby! just will not sleep. They all take turns, doing what parents have always tried. Trips in the helicopter. Golden dummies. Plane trips with the Queen, who then does her famous parachute jump (with the baby; not to escape its crying).

You can tell which royal family the author had in mind. Except, we appear to have gained a King somewhere. Picture books need kings. This one sings.

Pippa and Harry are a bit too noisy, and so are the corgis. But eventually all sleep. Even the baby, who at all times is dressed in a genderless babygrow.

These stories will definitely appeal to all but the most dyed-in-the-wool anti-royals.

First books

You can’t be too careful what you offer a baby for their first ‘read.’ In case it’s a roaring success, you want to feel you can cope with the book every day for the next year or so. (It took me all of two minutes to read these.)

The four baby books by Olive & Moss will appeal to most parents, and I can’t believe a child would not love them as well. I was particularly taken with Collette the Cow. Her book is about colours, and it ends with the best colour of all. Purple.

Collette the Cow

The other three are about Noises, Numbers, and Shapes, and all look delicious enough to eat. Actually, thinking about that careless statement for a while, it could be that these books are more likely to end up in someone’s mouth than books do at later stages in life.

There’s Michael the Monkey, Margot and Mo, and Louis the Lion. They are far more attractive than anything we ever gave Offspring to ‘read.’ I’m half tempted to start over.

(I said half. I won’t, you know.)

Tying the knot

There was never any need for me to doubt the strength of the cake-ribbon knot. I have carried cakes from such a young age, that it simply didn’t occur to me that there could be a mishap. Yes, you could drop the cake. But it wouldn’t be for poor ribbon-tying.

Swedish bakers put fancy cakes and gateaux in a cardboard box, which is then closed with, and given a carrying handle by, a gift type ribbon in a garish colour. Twice one way and once the other and then securely knotted. It looks effortless, but I imagine it’s something they train shop staff to do from day one. Unlike when you wrap a book, you can’t swish the gateaux around.

You can – and should – carry the box by the ribbon.

When we used my local bakers’ 20% off a cake the other week, the Resident IT Consultant carried it in his arms like a baby, until I told him to be normal and grasp the ribbon. He was doubtful, but it worked (even for him). It was then I realised I’d just never had to think about it. I was born to carry cake.

We discussed this, Daughter and I, as we bought another cake a week later. I mean, we discussed it. I’m not saying there was another cake bought. At all. Absolutely not.

Although, it did call out to me, as I went in to buy a loaf of bread. It said ‘I’m a lovely little cake. Buy me and take me home.’

Who could refuse a request like that? And this being a bakers’ coop, I get 10% of it back in coupons for next year’s 20% off a cake (I hope you are keeping up with the percentages?), so really, I had to. It was out of my hands. The decision, not the cake or the box or the ribbon.


Flambards is the book people (=the obsessive fans of K M Peyton) most go on about when talking about their beloved author’s best books. The one every single one of them has told me I must read. The only reason I delayed was to save this special something for the right occasion.

I have to admit it wasn’t at all what I’d imagined. I really liked it, but found myself in disagreement with the heroine Christina on more than one occasion. The book is nearly fifty years old, and if you take away the horses you would have the traditional ‘governess/young girl in a grand mansion’ story, except not very much of it, as the horses fill most of the book.

The romance is there, but not in a straightforward way at all. I went through all three possible young men, and left feeling none the wiser at the end. I know. There are more books for me to read. I’ll find out. Or I could Wikipedia the whole thing. WWI is on the horizon, and will no doubt deal with the male characters.

K M Peyton, Flambards

At first I cheered the 12-year-old Christina as she arrived at Flambards, feeling confused and hurt by her uncle’s behaviour, and scared of her cousin Mark and his riding madness. But her cousin Will plays too small a part (to fit with the blurb on the back of the book) and stable boy Dick has the problem of being the hired help.

As Will and Dick both find, Christina soon becomes more like Mark and uncle Russell than you would expect. This is confusing, and not at all helpful, but quite realistic. We are all mixed-up, and Christina has the right to be too.

Not being the slightest bit horsey, I found it hard to understand. But fascinating. The Russells might be poor, but that’s nothing compared to how poor the poor are. Or powerless. Very interesting portrait of the countryside in pre-war England.

Now all that remains is for the rest of you not to blabber before I’ve found out for myself what happens to Christina and her three men. (I reckon one has to die. One injured in the war? And horses are on the way out. Cars and planes are the new horses. Christina will see sense, and possibly learn the facts of life.)

Bookwitch bites #111

Stephen Booth returns to Reading Matters in Chapel-en-le-Frith tomorrow, at 10.30. I’m guessing to sign books in general (mainly his own) and to promote his new Cooper & Fry novel Already Dead. According to Stephen himself, he is not, and never has been, J K Rowling. (I can see these jokes going on for some time.)

Although, to me it’s not so much of a joke that people yet again mind so awfully about J K, that they find it hard to accept that she still writes books, gets them published, and sells some copies on the strength of the young wizard. And some of us just happen to believe she might be worth reading anyway. We can’t simply magic Harry Potter away. He exists. We like him. Some of us will like what comes after Harry because of what it is, and not because it’s got her name on the books. Or not her name, as the case may be.

Another big name, Terry Pratchett, will soon have a new book out, and I can’t help but think he had our family in mind. It’s about trains, and it will be published on somebody’s birthday. Raising Steam arrives on October 24th (unless there are leaves on the track, I suppose). While you wait, there is some kind of iPad map of Ankh-Morpork to be had at half price until the end of the month.

Since I seem interested in making you spend money, let me introduce the Nicola Morgan online shop! Yes, a dream come true for Nicola, where she can play shopkeeper to her heart’s content. So far it’s bags and books, but I’ve been led to understand there could be even more exciting stuff available later. Keep checking in, and keep Nicola in shoes and baked beans.


Meanwhile, I’ve received yet another book in my temporary jiffy receptacle. I’m guessing the postperson doesn’t know how lucky he/she is not to be carting them hither every day or every week. Let’s just hope the senders know when to stop.

Let things change…

You might remember how intolerant of change I am. A witch turns her back on the old country for a mere year and stuff changes! I mean, how very dares it not remain just the way it always was?

We went to the dentist, the Resident IT Consultant and I. Was the dentist still there? Well, you already know he had the temerity to change where the practice is, which really took me by surprise a few years ago. So, was he still there? No, he wasn’t.

The practice had not moved. He had retired. (In fairness, I knew this. But still.) So we allowed ourselves to be poked by someone new. She seems very nice. She had new ideas of what to use on your (well, our) teeth, which in turn made us visit the chemist’s in town.

I pulled on its door with no luck. Looked around, and found they’d halved the premises and the current door was a few feet to the left. I have been shopping in that pharmacy for decades! Admittedly, not very frequently. But still.

The Resident IT Consultant mowed our grass. He also mowed a tree root, and the mower seemed rather unwell afterwards. So we took it to the lawnmower hospital. It was hard to find last time we went there, so I was proud of myself for double checking on the map first. You know what happened, of course. It wasn’t there. We were, but that didn’t help. I phoned, and was told they’d not been there for years. They are now next to The Naughtiness Factory. I knew where that is… Obviously.

Mower was more than unwell, however, and has now been put down.

When doing some shopping in town with Daughter, I found that the supplier of half the ‘public’ toilets had got rid of them (so it was jolly lucky that in my need a little earlier I had chosen to go somewhere else). This is supposedly a touristy sort of town. I wonder where they imagine people will ‘go’ now?

Had been invited round to someone’s house for cheese and wine (I’ve suddenly grown up!) one evening. I’d never been, but ‘knew’ where it was, and that we should look out for the small red cottage. We found it, but I smelled a rat when the garden was full of toys, so tried the cottage next to it. That turned out to be the one, except it’s off-white, and before that it apparently used to be yellow…

Went for elevenses (more like quarter to twelveses, to be honest) at Börjes yesterday morning. And you know what? It was still there. They had moved their shop counter by 90 degrees, however. The Resident IT Consultant had already been to buy bread, so I told him off for not warning me. Seems he did tell me. I have now instructed him to double check I am paying attention when he speaks to me in future.

And because there was a sizeable queue by that very counter, not to mention no parking spaces outside, we drove round ‘downtown’ Harplinge for a few minutes, to let things clear. Daughter required a toyshop. The toyshop of her childhood. We drove past.

You know what had happened. It’s now a pizzeria.

But at least we made the most of that discovery when it was time for dinner.

(I may be premature in writing all this down now, with some time still left in which other changes might be discovered. But I feel strangely optimistic.)