Monthly Archives: March 2020

The 2020 ALMA winner

This year’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner is completely unknown not just to me, but to some other people who often know a lot more about these things than I do. That’s not to say Baek Hee-na is not a worthy laureate. I wish her all the best, especially in a year when not even the award ceremony can take place in the usual way.

“Baek Hee-na is one of Korea’s most recognized picture book artists. With a background in film animation, her unique visual style features handmade miniature figurines and environments painstakingly lighted and photographed. She has published thirteen picture books that are popular throughout Asia, a number of which have been translated.”

Please get well, Michael Rosen

One or two of my author friends have caught the Corona virus, and we’ve had our fingers crossed as they have traversed the fever, the headaches, the breathing difficulties, and the long-lasting cough.

I’ve learned that Michael Rosen was in intensive care over the weekend. He has apparently been moved to a ward now, and I hope very much that he will have the strength to fight back.

Aloud

Sometimes – well, quite often now, actually – I forget the most obvious things. Like reading aloud to someone else. A child, perhaps. Even a fairly mature child, although possibly not as mature as Offspring, living in a house of their own. Or if you’ve got a cough, which gets worse for exercising the vocal chords.

It was seeing what Lucy Mangan had to say in the Guardian about what to read during these testing times. She suggested reading aloud, and now I want to do that.

Cough.

She mentioned a lot of good books, too, for any kind of reading right now. Two of them I have thought of quite a bit recently, and decided against, despite them being firm favourites, and me thinking that if I have all this extra time now, it’s perfect for re-reading. Hah.

How I Live Now, which is only my favourite book ever. By Meg Rosoff. But you knew that. I just don’t know how I could cope with it, under the circumstances. Or After Tomorrow, by Gillian Cross. I mention it often, but for now I think I will pass.

You go ahead and read them!

As with the fluffy television, it’s strictly puppies and bunnies here. Maybe not the bunnies if they’re in my garden, eating all my plants. But you know what I mean.

I already mentioned Lisa Tetzner’s ship full of undesirable passengers, the other day. That’s the book I only got halfway through when reading aloud to Son. I still owe him the second half. It’s not quite two decades ago that we stopped. Maybe I can restart, over the phone?

Malory Towers

Speaking of fluffy entertainment, we tackled the first episode of Malory Towers the other evening. It was thoughtful of the BBC to stream it immediately, rather than wait. There are many of us needing light fun, and not all of us are school age.

I am very sure I read Malory Towers when I was the ‘right’ age. It’s just such a long time ago that I remember nothing. Because it wasn’t the only boarding school book for young girls to read. I read many of them, thanking my lucky stars I didn’t have to go there.

The funny thing was, when I suggested watching this new adaptation, both Daughter and the Resident IT Consultant went blank. Not as in they wouldn’t want to, but more ‘what is it?’ So I explained about Enid Blyton and midnight feasts. The Resident IT Consultant could remember how the other children staying at the holiday centres he went to as a child, would want to organise midnight feasts in the dormitories. The poor boy didn’t get it.

Neither did Daughter, although she vaguely recalled something similar at the place her Junior school took children for a few days for outdoors fun and education.

Episode one was fine. Except if it was set in the 1930s the train rolling stock was too modern… Well, at least the Resident IT Consultant got to contribute his usual ‘they’ve got it wrong on the trains’ and everyone was happy.

But Darrell. As a name, I mean. I didn’t know it, until six years ago when we sold the old Bookwitch Towers to a woman by that name. Now I understand. Her mother was presumably a Malory Towers fan.

Ships, and paradise

It was the ‘Ship with no harbour‘ I thought of first. Was it last month? Time is strange right now. But anyway, those cruise ships that weren’t allowed to put into harbour in the Far East because of the contagion on board.

I felt there were many parallels with Lisa Tetzner’s novel set in the late 1930s, where poor, and ill, Europeans tried to start a new life in South America. But no country wanted them so they sailed on. And on.

Closer to home [Scotland] we have Teri Terry’s Contagion from three years ago. That was pretty terrible. I’m not even going to mention percentages here. I was only able to like it because it was so very fictional.

And that witchy feeling I had about the current Bookwitch Towers? I wasn’t sure what bad stuff I was expecting until Brexit happened. Then I ‘knew.’ That’s what was going to forcibly remove me from here. Maybe.

Then there’s the television drama from 2003, Virus au Paradis. I loved it at the time. It, too, was fictional. It was, wasn’t it? But I feel a lot worse about it now.

At the moment, I can only read nice fluffy books. I can only bear watching nice fluffy films. Before long I’ll be nothing but nice and fluffy.

The emergency quiche

You are under the impression you’ve coined an expression, and then it turns out you’re not alone. At. All.

We eat emergency quiche here. Not in national emergencies, but more when for whatever reason we can’t make dinner [in time]. They are generally bought, in order to be convenient, but would obviously taste better if home made. Trouble with home made is they are often gone by the time we have the emergency.

Last week the Resident IT Consultant discovered they have emergency quiche in The Archers! Seems they have unexpected explosions as well, so I am grateful we only have the pastry, egg and cheese concoction.

Today we have emergency Daughter in the kitchen, by which I mean she’s not on the menu, but in charge of making what’s on the menu. It’ll be a lot nicer than quiche.

Lowering the standards?

Thank goodness for David Lammy! I was really pleased to see his choice of book that made him laugh.

Usually even that question in the Guardian Review’s questions to writers gets a ‘worthier’ response. But here was a grown-up, a politician, willing to mention a silly – but funny – picture book.

I remember Who’s in the Loo? by Jeanne Willis. Like all her picture books it’s both funny and seriously sensible. And I have my own personal interest in toilets, making it a lot more relevant than some.

In fact, most of the books mentioned by David are more normal than I have come to expect.