feather_ghyll: Boat with white sail on water (Sailboat adventure)
Torridons’ Triumph: Marie Muir Collins 1967

This is the first book by Muir that I’ve read – I think there were others by her in the shop where I saw this, but I decided to just buy one as a taster – and it was a really enjoyable and satisfying story. It falls into that sub-genre where a family of youngsters must band together to make enough money to keep the family going. Here, Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Close-up of white flower aganst dark background (Black and white flower)
Collected over months (or longer):

A tribute to Elinor M. Brent-Dyer by nobodyjones

The thrill of the used bookstore hunt

Amanda Diehl talks about book hunting practices involving second-hand bookshops that I can partially sympathise with. I do have strange habits about books, but let’s focus on the euphoria of finding something you’ve long looked for at a reasonable price.

Daniel Dalton recommends 33 Books You Should Read Now, Based On Your Favourite Films. Having read and seen some pairs, I can see where he’s coming from and have found a cuple of recommondations.

There are a few Nancy Drew icons here by misbegotten.

Angela Brazil: dorm feasts and red hot pashes

Kathryn Hughes has been rereading Angela Brazil (spoilers for A Patriotic Schoolgirl).

Here’s a new blog about children’s books that I think will be worth keeping an eye on: homeintimefortea
feather_ghyll: Boat with white sail on water (Sailboat adventure)
Rangers and Strangers and Other Stories: Ethel Talbot Nelson

I didn't realise until opening this book to rad it that it was a collection of short stories, rather than one book-length story. The title of the collection comes from the first and longest story, and is, in a way misleading, because Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Back of girl whose gloved hand is holding on to her hat. (Girl in a hat)
Some biographical information on Katherine L. Oldmeadow and a review of Princess Prunella here, which I first read when I was young enough that going to France did seem like a remarkable event to me.

Lyzzybee has written an enthusiastic review of Eva Ibbotson's Journey to the River Sea that doesn’t give too much of the plot away but gives a good idea of what to expect and why you should read it (if you haven’t).

Mystery subgenres explained in the Washington Independent Review of Books.
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
The Camp Fire Girls at Hillside: Margaret Love Sanderson Reilly & Britten 1913

Following Pam Plays Doubles, this is another example of an interesting girls own subgenre, well, two, I suppose. First of all, it’s an American boarding school story (a small subgenre in my experience, but think What Katy Did at School and Jean Webster’s books). Granted, Miss Belaire’s Academy, located in Hillside, New England, in the teens of the twentieth century, is more of a boarding tertiary college for young ladies whose fathers wanted them to continue their education. But although our heroines are between 16 and 19, in many ways they feel about as young as English fourth formers who seem to range from 13 to 16. They’re girls, not quite young women.

It’s also a Camp Fire story, and while it bears a lot of similarities with Guide stories, there are some differences.

There were girls in pink linen and blue; girls in white duck and purple crash; girls in frilly lingerie waists, and girls in stiff tailormade’. (page 22 – I have no idea what type of outfits ‘white duck’ on are referring to).

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
A collection of links, some of them related to recent posts and things of interest, some that I came across quite some time ago.

Swallows and Amazons memorobilia here!

A critical review of Diana Wynne Jones's The Game (in lieu of my thoughts which I never did write up) by a DWJ fan.

Author Hilary Mantel talks about looking for female role models in 19th century novels
with specific reference to Jo March, Katy Carr and Jane Eyre, discussiong her childish reaction to them, and some other aspects, such as the picture of contemporary London and interaction with real personages in What Katy Did Next.

A nice description of 'Remembering my best find'. I don't hink I can remember a best find so clearly, but I do know from experience that it's always worth trying even the least promising shop.

A review of the production of Daisy Pulls it Off that I saw.

Greyladies a new publishing venture that's just registered on me radar - Girls Gone By's older sister? - that I'm definitely interested in.

Wikipedia's potted history of Josephine Elder.

ETA: I nearly forgot, Happy Easter!
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
Is Meg Cabot the L. M. Montgomery of her generation? In the future, will daughters read their mothers' copies of her books and pass them on to their own daughters? Is there another author who fits that bill?

The comparison between the writers, and thus these non-deadly serious questions, arose in my mind partly because of various discussions I've seen on lj about how to define 'girls' fiction' - when you think about it, the definition can be as broad as you like. (I recently read a book where someone in her mid-twenties was described as a girl. I am not sure if that is heartening or patronising.) It's also and perhaps mainly because I've read a lot of both's books of late - over the last year, I've read Cabot's All American Girl, Size 12 is Not Fat and The Queen of Babble and more (to come: reviews of Nicola and the Viscount and Teen Idol), because her books seem to pop up a lot in charity shops and the like. Actually, that may argue against them being kind of book mothers keep to pass on. I tend to pass on 'disposable' books to charity shops, I assume that so do other people. Given the fact that Cabot is seen as a fluffy YA writer, maybe readers 'outgrow' her. Or maybe this is an example of this generation of young girls' attention deficit disorder. Though I do believe that Cabot has a tendency to produce quantity over quality, sometimes, I've kept all my copies of her books, purchased second or first hand.

Of Montgomery's work, most recently, I've read Pat of Beech House and The Blue Castle (the last is definitely recommended, it's a gem) and I want to read the former's sequel very much. I grew up loving the 'Anne' series and made the acquaintance of 'Emily' at college.

So what similarities do I see? Both are popular - although I haven't read any of Cabot's signature books, The Princess Diary series, I have seen the movie adaptations, which just emphasises how very, very popular she is. Both write heroine-centric books for girls, with a tendency toward series (the Anne and Emily books are what Montgomery is best known for) that inspire loyalty. They're also interested in character growth - which seperates them from more static serials. Readers do get to know what happens next.

The first Cabot books I read were the Mediator series, back when they were published under the pen-name Jenny Carroll. Though there's a supernatural twist, they have elements to be seen in most of Cabot's books, a likeable, good-hearted heroine who needs to learn something (IMO Susannah seems to devolve into more of a ditz the longer the series goes on), a delicious love interest (oh, Jesse, Jesse, Jesse), a finger on the popculture pulse (The Mediator series would probably not have existed without Buffy and Teen Idol confirms that Cabot knew of the show ). There's also a keen sensitivity to the Queen Bee system of hierarchy imposed among girls and women. The Mediator books are set in a high school, but similar ground is examined in The News Chronicle series, set at a New York newspaper.

Although both writers are known as children's writers, they've also got books for older readers - the divide is less sharp in Montgomery's books, because her series follow her heroines into adulthood (see the Anne series). In fact, the description of Anne of Green Gables as a children's book seems to have been foisted upon it in recent years.

The packaging of the adult Cabot books is interesting in this regard, as is the content. They're sold as chicklit, but the Princess Diary connection is not ignored. How could it be? She's less circumspect than Montgomery was about sex - it's a different different era - although, for instance, the News Chronicle series is fluffier, cuter and more likely to close the bedroom door early than a lot of other chick lit, and when you see the enclosed fan comments in her kids' books, you understand why. Having said that, as a reviewer reminded me, Montgomery does cover unfluffy events in The Blue Castle.

Delicious heroes aside, I had tended to think of Cabot's books as enjoyable froth, but disposable, something to be jumped on if I saw it cheap in a charity shop, but Size 12 is Not Fat, a Heather Wells mystery and the first in a series hooked me, mixing a slow-burn love story, with the reinvention of a former pop star as an independent grown-up and amateur sleuth. I came to Cabot as an adult, admittedly one who reads a lot of children's and girls' literature still, but as only a part-time member of the target audience, while like most of her readership over the years, I read Montgomery first as a child, returned to her growing up and am rediscovering her as I try to complete my collection now. So I can pose the questions that I did at the outset, but I'm in no place to answer them, and probably time will do so for me. After all, there must have been other writers that readers thought might join the canonical girls' library, as Montgomery joined Little Women and Daddy-Long-Legs and What Katy Did (my chronology is probably severely off and my selection quirky), but they didn't, or they didn't make it internationally. Thoughts?

Links, resources, the usual.

[Anne of Green Gables] was published in 1908 and became an instant success, selling more than 19,000 copies in 5 months.

Wikipedia claims 'It was written as fiction for readers of all ages, but in recent decades has been considered a children's book. '

Anne of Green Gables encyclopedia

Which heroine are you?
Which L.M. Montgomery Heroine are You?
Which L.M. Montgomery Heroine are You?


How Anne am I?
How Anne are You?
How Anne are You?

More LMM games here.

An L M Montgomery resource page

Discussion of The Blue Castle at a book reading comm and another on Anne and Diana's relationship.


[Meg Cabot] has more than 15 million copies of her books — children's, young adult, and adult — in print worldwide.

Meg Cabot interview that covers the difficulties of being a popular YA author (who is read by kids) and an adult writer, in terms of the crossover readership, sex in the books and her own language, and it touches on the issues of quality and quantity.
http://www.harf.lib.md.us/readers/archive_meet_the_author/jens_cabot_feb06.htm conducted by Jennifer Vido.

And here she writes in her blog about revision: http://www.megcabot.com/diary/?p=520
http://www.megcabot.com/diary/?p=521
It was cruel irony that just as I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for my last set of revisions, a new set came in.

I realize this is entirely my own fault for writing so much, and I have only myself to blame. The only answer, obviously, is to stop writing so much.
And believe me, I’ve tried….

But every time I try to take a break, I get some new idea for a book or a series, and I’m like, “Dang, that would be so cool,” and I have to get out of the pool and start writing it.
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
Researching for this review, I found out that one of its sequels, Toby of Tibbs' Cross, is that book featuring a Land Girl that I was thinking of the other day. The fact that I didn't remember that I'd read about the further adventures of this character doesn't worry me particularly, but as it wasn't on my main list of girls' own stories, that suggests that it is not stored with the rest of those books, or it wasn't when I made the list to try to avoid buying second copies of books I already own.

(PS: The only tennis I saw yesterday was the entertaining Bryan twins n their way to an easy victory. Doubles always fascinates me, apart from the rat-a-tat volleying, with its psychology. There is some tennis in the book below, but it's mainly a plot device.)

Anyway:

The School on the Moor: Dorita Fairlie Bruce Oxford 1934 reprint
Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
This is what happens when you don't do your googling before posting an overview of a subgenre. You have to do a follow-up post.

Here's an informative overview of the Sally Baxter series.

Article: Not Just for Children Anymore: Girls' Series Books
What many girls' juvenile series seem to have in common is that they posit the existence of a safe, orderly world, a world where right and wrong are clearly defined, and where right eventually triumphs. The protagonists face dilemmas, but few moral ambiguities. They are secure, fulfilled, and happy--and they never forget to be "feminine," to act like ladies, even when they are being their most adventurous and liberated.

More info on this subgenre at a comprehensive site - it has info on the Susan Sand mysteries (I have three of them). This is the related blog.

The Cherry Ames page.
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
I ended my stint at the charity shop on Tuesday. Once again, it was pretty busy, but not that many books were sold. I got a look at the selection on offer and there were very few children's books, mostly picture books, so there's no wonder I didn't sell many of them. IIRC, I sold a saga romance, a chick lit book and a humorous book. I didn't buy any books for myself, but I did buy a classical music CD and it's on as I type this :) The experience was cool, I did feel as if I genuinely helped out, and even that much experience of being on the other side and seeing how dependent the shops are on donations among other day-to-day pressures was an eye-opener. The vast majority of customers was retired, but you got all sorts coming in. A lot of the men did what I do in such shops and make a beeline for the bookshelves.

Anyway, the review:

For the Sake of the School: Angela Brazil, Blackie.

It's about time I came to write a review of a book by (possibly) the queen of girls' school stories. It is, after all, Brazil who is most likely to get mentioned first in discussions about boarding school stories, and that's an achievement for she didn't write series like Brent-Dyer, Oxenham and Fairlie Bruce. That is not to say that a reader doesn't know exactly what they're going to get when they pick up a book of hers :) Still, respect is due - and what did I do? I dropped my copy in seawater. Um...whoops, sorry! It's okay though, it only got a little wet.

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
Noel Streatfeild news and resources:

Ballet Shoes to be made into a feature length drama to air on BBC One later this year - read the press release. I got the heads up from Digital Spy. This could be great, the BBC, after all, should be able to handle this sort of material in its sleep, but it rather depends on who they cast to play the Fossils and what the director gets out of them.

h2g2 has an overview of the 'Shoes' "series" (which was artificially created as such, though some of them are obviously connected, says the person who never could read 'The Bell Family', in fact I'm not sure if I didn't give up and give it away.)

For more, there's this well-presented Noel Streatfeild site: http://www.whitegauntlet.com.au/noelstreatfeild/

Discussion - girls in fiction and the women writing it

Girl wonders
As Nancy Drew returns to the screen, Laura Barton remembers the fictional female heroes who bested the boys, bucked convention and shaped her childhood

Were you an Ann or a George? (Plus, it may be made more explicit in later books, because, yes, I am of the Nancy Drew Files/strawberry blonde generation, but is Ned Nickerson not 'the love interest' and sidekick to Nancy? Sadly, there's no mention of the Swallows and Amazons girls in this article.)

Editorial anonymous, a children's book editor, discusses the question of whether children's books are a girls' club and if so why? This mainly refers to modern children's literature.

I recommend
Essay/Discussion: Twins, part two
by [livejournal.com profile] sangerin, which focuses on the twins of the Abbey Girls and Chalet School series.

Malcolm Saville resources:

The Malcolm Saville centenary website, through which I discovered 'Three Towers in Tuscany' is the first of a sequel, which ends with 'Marston Baines - Master Spy'. My delight at the fact that there are more books and that one of them has such a title cannot be textually rendered.

Quizzes:

http://www.funtrivia.com/quizzes/literature/specific_subjects__themes/childrens_literature.html
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
Rereading 'Secret Water' the other week was a real treat. Read more... )

I must have read 'Swallows and Amazons', the first book in the series, first, but I probably read them out of order, getting them out of the library and rereading them, and I'm not sure if I ever read them all. Although there was a time when I'd have said the Anne series was my favourite series, and I've been reading new-to-me Montgomery's over the last year, I'm basking in a lot of Ransome love at the moment. Looking back, it occurs to me that I liked 'mixed' series when I was at primary school: the Famous Five, the Lone Piners and Swallows and Amazons, and more girl-centric series the older I got: the Chalet girls, the Annes and the Abbey girls. That isn't to say that it was so clear-cut, I mean, I read Mallory Towers along with the Famous Five and was into the Scarlet Pimpernel in the lower part of secondary school, and I probably started buying my own copies of the Swallows and Amazons books about that time, too, thanks to more pocket money. Due to the availability of library copies if I wanted them (and yes, they were hardbacks with the nifty dust-jackets covered in a plastic binding) and my familiarity with the stories, I didn't hunt down copies of my own. Though if they came my way cheaply, i'd buy them. As a result, I've probably read the most land-bound book, 'Pigeon Post', the most. I had half resolved that this year I'd try to complete my collection of Chalet School books (which is mainly Armada paperbacks - I try not to think about the abridging that has gone on in them too hard), but right now I'm more enthused about getting a complete set of the Swallows and Amazons series.

Reading 'Secret Water' set me off to hunt the interwebs for resources. I may have been looking in the wrong places (livejournal and Google mainly) but there doesn't seem to be much around. I wanted something on the chronology of the books, essays on the characters and their roles, with an eye to gender, and on the themes of the books. The story needs all of them, from instigator Nancy, future naval commander John, the excellent Susan (who I really appreciated in 'SW'), dreamer and mapmaker Titty, to the others. There seems to be some stuff out there about Ransome-the-author, but not as much discussion of the text, just lots of short comments that can be summarised as 'Swallows and AMazons, oh yes, I loved them. Wasn't Nancy great? They're pure escapism'. Surely there's more to say than that!

Here's what I did find:

Swallows and Bolsheviks from [livejournal.com profile] oursin


This knocked my socks off:
Secret waters: Reliving author Arthur Ransome's literary journey along the Essex coast by Graham Hoyland

When my father was the age of an Amazon, one of his teachers was the poet W H Auden, who later called the 1930s "a low, dishonest decade". To adults, perhaps, it was, but to Ransome's fictional children it seems an age of innocence. What parent would now leave their young children (including a six-year-old, Bridget) to camp on an island unsupervised?
[A part of me is outraged on behalf of the excellent Susan Walker.)

Resources: Arthur Ransome/S and A background books [I'd probably need to see reviews before getting them.]

Icons based on cover art by [livejournal.com profile] keswindhover

Any other links would be very much welcomed.
feather_ghyll: Book shop store front, text reading 'wear the old coat, buy the new book.' (Book not coat)
Eek! It's a week since I scrawled the first version of this. I really should have typed and pasted it sooner.

Apart from some transportation problems - a late bus here, me missing a train there - there were no adventures a week ago on my trip to Hay-on-Wye. Instead I relaxed and did some heavy-duty shopping. The Hay on Wye damage was cough books for splutter pounds. I've been consoling myself by working out that the average cost of each book was around a fiver, which is cheaper than your average first hand paperback. I've also vowed not to buy any more books for a while, which seems a more realistic goal than not spending any money ever. In fact, I'm probably set for well beyond the time when the last Harry Potter is published, but I'll make an exception for that.

Pen, Polly and their Brothers: Doris Pocock, Blackie
is the first new purchase from Hay-on-Wye that I've delved into.
click here for a review )
feather_ghyll: Book shop store front, text reading 'wear the old coat, buy the new book.' (Book not coat)
I did say that my posting would be sporadic in this journal! I'll start off by linking to a rather wonderful post, to read perchance to dream, which urges us to marvel at books

This weekend, I'm hoping to go on a day trip to Hay on Wye, which is a fabulous village on the Welsh side of the border between England and Wales that mainly sells second-hand books. I am trying to set myself a realistic budget - I had a peek at some of the prices for books I might like to buy and had to revise my early plans: same budget, less books. I discovered that I could blow my whole budget (for bookshopping and sustenance) on a single copy of a first edition of an Abbey Girls book that I don't have. Then I'd have to train myself not to eat or drink in its vicinity. Or breathe. And I should possibly buy special gloves, which seems a little extreme. It's the portability, the clutchability and grab up and pick down-ability of a book, so that I can get to the story that matters to me, and so coming up against the second-hand market proper is always a shock. It was interesting to see the going rate for some of the books that I have (with added occasional coffee stain to decrease the value).

When I've told people that I'm going to Hay, a lot have asked if it's for the festival, but for me, that appeals far less than simply walking around from shop to shop and letting myself enjoy the serendipity of the experience that second-hand bookshops provide. (Charity shops provide it too, only cheaper.) While I certainly appreciate the way that online stores allow you to find very specific requirements (great for reading an older series in order, for example), the experience of walking into a shop and finding something unexpected on its shelves, attracted by the title or the cover, intrigued by the blurb or tempted by the price, is something else altogether. Going to Hay, where I'm unlikely to get a bargain in the mercenary sense, though I might get a great story in a tatty, cheap, copy, is more rarefied and intense than going anywhere else; it's a chocolate factory, not a chocolate shop, as it were. I've only been there once, and remember it as a jaw-dropping, fun, but frustrating experience on a pocket money budget, and it may be, oh another 12 years or so before I go again, but I'm really looking forward, and hoping to get some books that I'll end up reviewing here.
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
Resources:
Ju Gosling's wonderful The Virtual World of Girls, which kept me interested throughout last summer, particularly The History of Girls School Stories. It's very comprehensive and interesting, even though I'm unconvinced by certain arguments. (The later portion, about technology and its implications is already really dated.)

Livejournal communities:
[livejournal.com profile] girlsown This community is devoted to vintage girls' fiction, mostly British and Australian. Think Brent-Dyer rather than Betsy-Tacy!

[livejournal.com profile] new_atalanta This is a community for articles, discussion, character studies and reviews – all directly related to Girls' Fiction. [...] New Atalanta is a group blog [...] Participants are asked to make 'post proposals' - book reviews; character studies; articles or essays on individual books or series, or on themes across series; graphics; recs and links to fic or to other people's meta.

Collecting Books and Magazines - wide-ranging information available here on Abbey, Biggles, Billabong, Billy Bunter, Chalet, Dimsie, Famous Five, Merry, Jennings, William, Anne of Green Gables, Gem, Observers, Ladybirds, Magnet, Wonder Books and many other literary subjects. ANNUALS, ARTICLES, ARTISTS, AUTHORS, BOOK COLLECTORS and COLLECTING, CHILDREN'S AUTHORS, CLUBS, EPHEMERA, FANZINES, MAGAZINES, NEW BOOKS and special presentations, NON-FICTION GENRES & SERIES, PAPERS, POCKET LIBRARIES, READERS, SERIES and STORY PAPERS.
I've only dipped in so far - it's probably not safe for me to do otherwise.

Publishers:
Girls Gone By I can personally recommend their service. Republishing hard-to-find gems (I've been using them heavily for Oxenham, but they do Brent-Dyer, Gwendoline Courtney and many more, not to mention related non-fiction.)

Fidra books - (re)publishes Mabel Esther Allan books among other children's adventure stories (see the list!)
The publisher's blog is here.

Booksellers:
Topsy Turvy Children's Books sellers of 2nd-hand books.

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