Do You Know What I Think?

October 3, 2009

 Pauline Cartwright grew up in North Otago. The mother of one of her friends was romance writer Essie Summers who encouraged Pauline’s writing but it was many years later before she became a published author.

When I interviewed her for North & South in 1991 she’d written more than 100 books. She’s written more since then but she’s still not very well known outside education circles because most of her books are school readers, the ones used to teach children.

It’s a shame her books haven’t reached a wider audience because they are delightful.

Do You Know What I Think? was her first book, published in 1986. It starts by saying: Do you know what I think? I think rabbits should have to clean their ears. It continues linking animals to daily ablutions and finishes with a line which brings a grin to the faces of readers of all ages.

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Post 3 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month.

Over at In A Strange Land Deborah has accepted the challenge to post a book a day too and today has  Why Cats Rule the World and Dogs are Still Slaves by Dawn McMillan.

Art & My Life also has a post for NZ Book Month: In the Zone  Zone of the Marvellous by Martin Edmund.

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Noddy rides again

November 18, 2008

It’s so much easier to bring up other people’s children than your own but in spite of that I do try to restrain myself from offering new parents advice unless it’s sought – with one exception.

When I give a book to a new baby I always suggest the parents read it themselves before reading it to their offspring. That way if they don’t like it they can put it away until the baby is old enough to read it her/himself, because if they don’t like it at first reading it won’t improve with the many repeats children demand of their favourite stories.

I agree with whoever (and it may have been Tolkein but I’m not sure) said there are no good children’s books there are just good books.

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When our daughter was younger I used to get as much enjoyment out of some of her favourites as she did, not just for the story they told but the way they told it.

They included Jane and the Dragon by Martin Baynton, which doesn’t let its follow your dream and girls can do anything themes get in the way of the story; Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell (which I can still recite although the toddler to whom I used to read it is now in her 20s); Babette Cole’s The Trouble with Mum, Jill Mruphy’s Five Minutes Peace (oh, how I empathised with Mrs Large’s desire for just a few child-free moments); and anything by Joy Cowley, Lynley Dodd or Pauline Cartwright.

Although if I had to choose a favourite from the latter it would be Do you know what I think?  (Do you know what I think? I think rabbits should have to clean their ears. I think giraffes should have to wash their necks . . . I have to! Every day!)

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With so many wonderful books to choose from it pained me that sometimes my “You choose a story” would be rewarded with a Noddy book which had belonged to her father.

Noddy went out of fashion, at least in part because there were concerns over racism and homsexual overtures. I didn’t care about the gollywogs or Noddy’s relationship with Big Ears, I just got no pleasure in reading the stories because the language and plots were boring.

However, thanks to the pc ban at least a generation of parents and their children were safe from Enid Blyton. But parents should beware because Noddy’s making a come back.

The popular children’s character was created by English author Enid Blyton in the late 1940s. Now her granddaughter, Sophie Smallwood, is preparing to write a new Noddy adventure.

Chorion, which owns the rights to Noddy, has commissioned the new book to mark 60 years since his first adventure was published.

Smallwood could well be able to bring Noddy from the 1950s to the noughties and make the story more readable while doing so, but I won’t be rushing out to buy a copy.


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