Jane and the Dragon

October 17, 2009

I indenitifed with Jane from the first sentence:  Jane hated sewing.

However, there’s a lot more to the heroine of Jane and the Dragon written and illustrated by Martin Baynton than a dislike of practising her stitches.

She wants to be a knight but the only one who takes her seriously is the court jester.

There’s a moral to this story about following your dream and not being frightened to do the unexpected, but it’s not heavy handed. This is first and foremost a delightful tale which is beauitifully illustrated.

The inscription in the copy on our daughter’s book shelf shows it was given to her as a Christmas present when she was four. We enjoyed reading it to her, she enjoyed being read to and a few years later, read and re-read it herself.

Back then it was just a book. Jane has now been televised and has a website.

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Post 17 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

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 Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Down in the Forest by Yvonne Morrison, illustrated by Jenny Cooper.

Rob’s been reading Slinkly Malinki by Lynley Dodd.


Tuesday’s answers

October 13, 2009

We have a new champion: Steve gets four points plus a bonus for being the first to get KLM and another bonus for humour – intended or not – for his answer to 4.

Cadwallader got one right, a bonus for being first with that answer and a bonus for inventiveness for the answer to 2.

Gravedodger got three (although I think  strictly speaking ammonium carbonate is a by-product of hartshorn) and the bonus he sought for handling all those wee bales (now known as weetbix).

Rob got three right and a bonus for lateral thinking with his answer to 4, though it wasn’t right.

Andrei got two right, another point for being close with 2 and adding extra information about hart (although hartshorn is a substance from the antlers not the antlers themselves) with a bonus for being first with Madeleine Albright.

Paul gets four points and a bonus for humour for his answer to 4.

PDM got one and a bonus for humour – intended or not – for his answer to 1.

Samo also got four right and a bonus for extra information.

P.S. Because I have a problem with typso typos, I’ve accepted Bayton which was given as the answer twice instead of Baynton.

Monday’s questions were:

1. What is the oldest airline still operating under its original name?

2. What is hartshorn?

3. Who wrote Jane and the Dragon?

4. Who said, I’ve never been to New Zealand before. But one of my role models, Xena, the warrior princess, comes from there.”?

5. What is the common name for alfalfa?

The answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


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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