Some Old Books

Dear fellow readers, I’m positively swamped. Just… swamped. But my head is full of books I want to share with you! So I’m going to put down a sentence about some oldies but goodies you can explore until I’m back. (I hasten to add: Things are GOOD busy. I’m getting writing done! Just… past-every-deadline busy.) These are books I’ve noticed a lot of Americans haven’t read, even among really deep, good readers, and they all fall into the “have you got a treat in store for you!” set of books.

These two come sort of as a set. They’re in the same world by Joan Aiken, who is one of my all-time favourite authors. We’ll talk more about her another day. While they’re loosely connected, they each can stand alone, and they’re short beauties. The prose is beautiful, but they’re very character-driven with powerful, lovable protagonists. You can read each of them in a day, or an evening, and I urge you, if you haven’t already, to do so.

Howl's Moving Castle.jpg

Diana Wynne Jones writes in the same tradition, I feel, as Joan Aiken. Her stories are deeply imbued with tradition, history, and folklore and fairy tales, but entirely, beautifully, richly original. Her protagonists are flawed, human, and lovable (I dare you to try not to love Sophie), and her prose wastes nary a word. Again, like Joan Aiken, she’s an author to learn from. I like to read good authors before I start writing, just to get the word-blood pumping, and Joan Aiken and Diana Wynne Jones are good authors for that.

Wishing for Tomorrow.jpg

This one is a little more recent than Howl or the Joan Aiken novels, but it’s written in response to a true oldie but goodie: A Little Princess. Hilary McKay is an author to trust, so I trusted her and read this even though I’d never have read it if written by anyone else. After all, I thought suspiciously, what else is there to be done with A Little Princess now that the story is over? Who can finish it, truly? But then I thought the fatal question: “What happens next, after all…?” And, well, I read it. Well. What happens next is funny, poignant, and strangely beautiful. It’s a page-turner, because the side characters of A Little Princess come to the forefront here (Ermengarde, Lavinia, even the Miss Minchins become more lifelike), and you do want to know… what happens next to them? Note: Hilary McKay is too smart to try to write Frances Hodgson Burnett’s sequel. No, she writes her own, and it’s very safe to read it.

So there are a few books for you to enjoy until I can return to reading and writing about new releases! I have got my eye on more than a few I’m excited about– there’s a new Segio Ruzzier coming in March— but until now these old ones are probably new to more than a few of you, and they’re wonderfully well worth reading. In the meantime, talk to me in the comments or by email (deborah@childrensbookroom.com)! What are you reading?

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