feather_ghyll: Illustration of the Chalet against a white background with blue border (Chalet School)
Here are some links I have meant to post for a good long while:

The Chalet School at War review by Did You Ever Stop to Think

From the same blog, a thought-provoking analysis of the first page of ‘The School at the Chalet’.

Also, a review of Head Girl of the Chalet School

And her Chalet School tag

[dreamwidth.org profile] el_staplador sings the praises of 'Ballet Shoes’ (from a feminist standpoint) here.

I couldn't see who whad written about coming to Anne Shirley for the first time as an adult at Vulpes Libris.

A review of Miss Buncle’s Book by Carrie S, which I found charming. My first D.E. Stevenson book was 'Amberwell', which I probably was too young for. I liked the idea of children growing up in a stately family home, but was quite upset that their lives turned out to be sad and full of strife. I find Stevenson variable in quality, but 'Miss Buncle’s Book' is one of my favourite books of hers,

The author of the recently reviewed Tam Lin can be found on Livejournal/Dreamwidth [livejournal.com profile] pameladean/[dreamwidth.org profile] pameladean.

Finally, and this is relatively breaking news, the BBC is adapting 'Little Women'.
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
Stage Mum: Lisa Gee Hutchinson 2008

(I read this on 1-2/7/11).

I felt I had to write about a book that references Ballet Shoes here. Lisa Gee's daughter Dora was cast as one of the Gretls in the original run of the current production of The Sound of Music. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
Apple Bough: Noel Streatfield. Collins. 2000

I'm not intentionally reading ballet-themed books in one go. Besides, although it's set in the same world as Streatfield's Ballet Shoes, ballet plays a very small part of the story. Anyway, this turned out to be the next book on my 'to read' list.

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
The seed of this comes from my thinking that I've read somewhere that JK Rowling said that Noel Streatfeild was a favourite writer of hers. I don't know if it would have occured to me to see Ballet Shoes for Anna as an influence on the Harry Potter series otherwise. Probably.

Ballet Shoes for Anna: Noel Streatfeild. Collins Modern Classic 1998
Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
Ballet Shoes (BBC One, Boxing Day 2007)
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1083845/

Adaptations both are and are not, risky prospects. Television companies and film studios make them because they believe that they're safe prospects, being familiar properties and so attracting an interested audience. Adapting a book also offers a touch of class to a TV or film production, more often than not. With 'Ballet Shoes', you have a widely acclaimed classic with nostalgic connotations from the viewers' childhood, and for the period in which the book is set. And yet, like I said, it's a risky proposition. The screenwriter has to translate the material to a different medium, for a different age, while they (and of course everyone else involved in the production) are putting their own stamp on readers' long-held personal view(s) of the book. Maybe influenced by their own long-held view, maybe not.
Read more... )

My thoughts on the book can be found here.
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
The Painted Garden: Noel Streatfeild. Puffin (?) edition, illustrated by Shirley Hughes

There may be spoilers for Ballet Shoes herein.

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Book shop store front, text reading 'wear the old coat, buy the new book.' (Book not coat)
The weekend before last weekend - sorry, this post has been one of the things I've never got round to sitting down and finishing until now - I saw a copy of 'Amberwell' by D. E. Stevenson with a dust jacket. As it was in a second-hand book shop, I didn't even pick it up, let alone look at the price. I have a hardback of my own, one that I bought thinking it was a children's book, perhaps if it had had a dust jacket I'd have been disabused of the notion. At first, the story is about a generation of children living in a house named Amberwell, but it follows them as they grow up and lead lives that would have been difficult even without the outbreak of the second world war, and, in fact, adult problems and mistakes blight their childhoods anyhow. So it's not a children's book at all. I was probably too young for it when I read it, because the bitterness and disappointments that the characters faced, and, maybe, the lack of a clear protagonist threw me. I read the sequel several years later and that may have been too long a wait, I'd reread 'Amberwell' at least once since, and 'Summerhills' felt like a different novel, and it lacked the focus on a place, although it did resolve some of the unfinished strands of the first book.

My favourite Stevenson book - so far, I've only read a handful of hers, and annoyingly haven't seen any new-to-me copies lately - is 'Miss Buncle's Book', which doesn't have that twist of, well, bitterness that's in 'Amberwell'. It's about a spinster and the village that she lives in. Our heroine Barbara is neither young nor middle aged, IIRC, and loves her village, but has something in her that can make her see it with a slightly removed perspective. And so she starts to write a book about it, a shadow narrative about the village's life, that imputes motives and expands mysteries, not nastily, because Barbara Buncle is a darling. But the story grows in the telling, as stories do, and contains a fantastical element - and has to be published. Once it is, Barbara in a tricky position. She's changed in the writing of her book and the book has changed her village.

It's altogether charming, I loved the book-within-a-book aspect and insight into the writing process. I've read one of the sequels, which isn't so much lesser as feeling quite different. Sequels that revisit characters' lives are a trait of Stevenson's (who, yes, is related to Robert Louis), so although not all the books are linked in an Oxenham or Brent-Dyer way, you do sometimes get the opportunity to find out what happened next. It's apt that not all the books are linked, some of them are quite different - you never know how light the mood will be with her, but their setting is always important.

Last weekend too, I reread 'Ballet Shoes', which was fun (particularly Posy's monomania for ballet). I was going to review it, but my notes were a little harsh. The thing is, I can't remember when I did read 'Ballet Shoes' first, but I suspect I was a teenager and not a child, so I didn't grow up with it, and the ballet dancer I took to heart young was Veronica Weston, and the young performers, the enterprising Blue Door theatre group. As such, even the first time I read Ballet Shoes, I was probably distanced, which is partly why I didn't empathise with any of the Fossils exactly, and found them a little quaint because there's this mix of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Usually, difference of period or location doesn't phase me but this time it did, especially their genteel poverty (oh, Gum, you selfish man!). Also, I'd have liked more detail on the ballet school's life, although I know that the story's about the Fossils, their family circle and their lodgers. I've also got 'The Painted Garden' (there's a mention of 'The Secret Garden' in 'Ballet Shoes', was it Streatfeild's favourite book?) to read, now there's a book I ought to reread, ('The Secret Garden') though I don't know if I have a copy.

What I suppose I'm getting at is how much subjective experience informs whether I take a book to heart. It all depends so much on what books are available in your childhood, in libraries or in shops, and whether your reading age is a bit beyond your actual or emotional age (or if you're reading something pitched younger, whereas if I had read 'Ballet Shoes' when I was closer to the girls' age, it might be one of my favourite books). Of course, there are other reasons to love books, and this blog is all about books that transcend reading age.

A D.E Stevenson page and another.
feather_ghyll: Book shop store front, text reading 'wear the old coat, buy the new book.' (Book not coat)
French page dedicated to Eric Leyland. It states that Leyland was a friend of Captain W. Johns - author of the Biggles books - and also wrote under the pseudonym of Elizabeth Tarrant (I didn't know this, I have one of 'her' books!). There's a full looking bibiliography - though they warn that it isn't necessarily complete, due to the numerous pseuds that he used - with pictures of covers. This suggests that there is a series of Stanton's books (I wonder if they are about Statnon's in its incarnation before 'Stanton's comes of Age' or after?
This
would suggest that it's after.)

Details on the casting for the new Ballet Shoes adaptation. My reaction. ) Also, I really need to reread the book.

The Fossil Cupboard - a message board to discuss Streatfeild's books.

And for Ransome fans, on lj, there's [livejournal.com profile] ransomefans. (I saw a Swallows and Amazons mug of the classic cover, which I had a bit of a struggle over, but couldn't justify buying it right now, 15 % opening weekend discount or no. This was at the new Borders.

P'raps I can engineer a mug-related accident...

Wikipedia offers this list of fictional works invented by EBD (it hurts me a little that they are not chronologically ordered).

[livejournal.com profile] astralis on new girls, honour and girls who don't fit in in girls school stories.

News of two Famous Five productions. Am I the only one who sees the major flaw in looking at the characters' lives decades later? Read more... ). Fan Lucy Mangan weighs in on the subject.

The Series Fic yahoo group - dedicated to exploring British children's series fiction of the 20th and 21st century.
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

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