Friday, June 13, 2008

Children's Books

John Hobbins has asked for posts on children's books. My children were raised with many - but that was a long time ago! Yet they still remember - even if I am a bit vague.

Babar featured largely in my children's past especially the story when he turns green from a bad mushroom. And he is in the present too with Poulenc's Histoire de Babar at the Selwyn May week concert. See the lovely poster.

I also in the days of my foolishness, have written one children's book. It's about Jesus' pet donkey, named Peleyah. I know it is too complex. And there is at least 1 typo even after two reprints. If you press me I could post the text online - but I have to consider the poor artist who hasn't earned a dime from this our effort in 2002.

I think I will write another - but it may be an alef-bet book - or maybe I will just keep on blogging. I hope to introduce the Shema to my Sunday School class this week, under the rubric Alef is for one. Alef is the head of the letters....

Other children's books that surprised me in my 20s when I began to reread them with my children - Brian Wildsmith - with colour that is unmatchable, A. A. Milne (who I really did learn to read - thanks to Maurice Evans and his records), Lewis and Tolkein, and many others. I will post more when I ask my wife for her memories.

A recent read and find is the Africa book highly recommended by a certain Earnest Hemmingway - "She writes rigns around us all who consider ourselves writers": West with the Night by Beryl Markham. It is some of the loveliest writing I have read for a long time.

Here's a touch on overlooking a part of the Africa she flew over in her Leopard Moth:

It was a world as old as Time, but as new as Creation's hour had left it.

In a sense it was formless. When the low stars shone over it and the moon clothed it in silver fog, it was the way the firmament must have been when the waters had gone and the night of the Fifth Day had fallen on creatures still bewildered by the wonder of their being. It was an empty world because no man had yet joined sticks to make a house or scratched the earth to make a road or embedded the transient symbols of his artifice in the clear horizon. But it was not a sterile world. It held the genesis of life and lay deep and anticipant under the sky.
Curiously enough (like Curious George, another of our children's favorites), I also read some of Piers Anthony (the Incarnations series - not in my opinion up to Phillip Pullman's similar fantasy His Dark Materials) in the past 6 days. They were in the random library that I found at Tofino in The Brick House where we stayed the week. I see that Phil Sumpter has noted this author in his post.

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