The School by The Sea : Angela Brazil

The School by the Sea by Angela Brazil My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is great. It bounces along in that determinedly vivacious sort of way that Angela Brazil does (“Girls! Girls Everywhere!”) and then completely forgets about plot and has a natural history interlude that goes on for about three hundred pages, beforeContinue reading “The School by The Sea : Angela Brazil”

The New School at Scawdale : Angela Brazil

The New School at Scawdale by Angela Brazil My rating: 4 of 5 stars I have a lot of time for Angela Brazil and The New School at Scawdale is a very distinctively Brazil book. It drifts rather pleasantly from set piece to set piece but doesn’t really do much with what it has. BackContinue reading “The New School at Scawdale : Angela Brazil”

The School in the Forest : Angela Brazil

The School in the Forest by Angela Brazil My rating: 4 of 5 stars “What! Go to school! To boarding-school! I won’t I tell you I won’t!” So begins The School in The Forest and the story of fourteen year old Jean Langton, a spoilt heiress who is both inevitably orphaned and inevitably romantic. HerContinue reading “The School in the Forest : Angela Brazil”

The Girls of St Cyprians : Angela Brazil

The Girls of St. Cyprians by Angela Brazil My rating: 4 of 5 stars I posted last night on Twitter with some degree of hysteria that The Girls of St Cyprians was now available on Project Gutenberg. This, for those of you that haven’t experienced this title, is a Very Good Thing. Angela Brazil isContinue reading “The Girls of St Cyprians : Angela Brazil”

Loyal to the School : Angela Brazil

Loyal to the School by Angela Brazil My rating: 2 of 5 stars It may be the result of me binging on a lot of Angela Brazil novels at the moment, but Loyal To The School genuinely struck me as a bit poor. Lesbia Ferrars’ guardian and his family decide to emigrate to Canada andContinue reading “Loyal to the School : Angela Brazil”

A Pair of Schoolgirls : Angela Brazil

A Pair of Schoolgirls by Angela Brazil My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s always a difficulty in reviewing an Angela Brazil for me in that all of her books pretty much resemble another. We have the girl in transition who is caught at a key point in her life (if you ignore all theContinue reading “A Pair of Schoolgirls : Angela Brazil”

Angela Brazil and the Case Of The Verb Vendetta

Angela Brazil taught me a lot of things. There’s a lot of fun to be had with a camp fire and a well meaning lady of suitable class to ‘pash’ on. Don’t go for a walk in the countryside without a handy story on the local mythology. And never ever drive a motor car whenContinue reading “Angela Brazil and the Case Of The Verb Vendetta”

You’re a Brick, Angela! : Cadogan and Craig

You’re a Brick, Angela!: The Girls’ Story 1839-1985 by Mary Cadogan My rating: 4 of 5 stars You’re a Brick, Angela! is an encyclopedic review of girls’ books between 1839 and 1985 and is practically essential for anybody interested in the study of children’s literature. Cadogan and Craig provide a sweepingly brisk overview of theContinue reading “You’re a Brick, Angela! : Cadogan and Craig”

The 1933 Girl’s Own Annual

(What are heatwaves made for if not to enjoy books that are eighty-eight years old?) If you’ve never come across a Girl’s Own Annual, you’re missing out. They were yearly bindups of the Girl’s Own paper – a publication that ran from 1880 – 1956 – and included work from authors as legendary as NoelContinue reading “The 1933 Girl’s Own Annual”

The Most Popular Girl In The School by Bessie Marchant

You know when you just finish reading a book and go ‘huh, so. what. just. happened?’. That’s The Most Popular Girl In The School in a nutshell. I read it and had to have this little moment where I flicked back through to check that I hadn’t imagined it all. But I hadn’t. Honestly, everythingContinue reading “The Most Popular Girl In The School by Bessie Marchant”

Freelance Work

I’d be happy to work with you if you’re looking for a writer, tutor, or researcher on a temporary, part-time or longer basis. Here’s an outline of some of the things I’ve done, and I’d love to talk further if they sound of interest. My rates vary as to circumstance and the initial consultation isContinue reading “Freelance Work”

About that secret project I've been working on…

Hello! So, over the past few months, I have been working on a small secret project and now I can tell you all about it. Essentially, I got increasingly grumpy and decided to do something about it. Grumpiness is a very good motivational factor! My grumpiness centred about the increasing realisation that the women writersContinue reading “About that secret project I've been working on…”

Harriet Takes The Field by Catherine Christian

Harriet Takes The Field by Catherine Christian My rating: 5 of 5 stars I loved this, even though I knew nothing about Catherine Christian before I saw it. Turns out she was a prolific author with credits spanning over fifty years and topics as diverse as Arthuriana, Guides, and Egyptian history, and that’s an achievementContinue reading “Harriet Takes The Field by Catherine Christian”

The Lost Staircase : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The Lost Staircase by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars I rather love this slim, eccentric story that doesn’t quite know what it’s meant to be. I came to it from the Chalet School series which sees two of the characters from The Lost Staircase attend the school. It’s a bravura stepContinue reading “The Lost Staircase : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

First Pages: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Every now and then, I like to look at the first pages of some very good children’s books and analyse just how and why they achieve that goodness. Today’s post is on the wonderful Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens and you can browse some of the previous entries in the First Page series here . IContinue reading “First Pages: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens”

The New House Mistress : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The New House Mistress by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 3 of 5 stars I almost missed this book. I was settling into my traditional ‘let’s check the B section in the bookshop just in case but there won’t be anything there’ frame of mind, and when I saw The New House Mistress tucked behindContinue reading “The New House Mistress : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The Susannah Adventure : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

I’d never heard of this book. Isn’t that awful? I’d never heard of it. And so, when I came across it at a book fair, I bought it and reader, I read it. It’s not the best of Brent-Dyer’s efforts. I feel that’s something we need to make clear almost immediately. It’s part of theContinue reading “The Susannah Adventure : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

2014 : The year of the paradigm shift?

Was 2014 the year children’s literature made itself known? Whilst there’s an obvious issue in such a grandiloquent statement (viz. children’s literature has always been ‘known’, etc, etc) I do think there’s something in that idea and this is going to be the blog post where I attempt to unpack that sentiment. In other words,Continue reading “2014 : The year of the paradigm shift?”

The Five Senses : Hervé Tullet

The Five Senses by Hervé Tullet My rating: 5 of 5 stars I’ve been unpacking a lot of my books recently from eternal storage and amidst the general delight of rediscovering old favourites and all the Angela Brazils that I couldn’t remember I had, was this beautiful little book. Tullet’s introduction to the five sensesContinue reading “The Five Senses : Hervé Tullet”

An introduction to the school story – ten titles to begin your reading journey

So you know I have a bit of a thing for school stories, right? Just in case that comes as a bit of an awful surprise to you, you’re either new (in which case, hi!) or haven’t been paying attention (in which case, remedial prep for you and Antoinette will bring ‘anchovy’ toast to yourContinue reading “An introduction to the school story – ten titles to begin your reading journey”

Murder Most Unladylike : Robin Stevens

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens My rating: 5 of 5 stars You may know by now that I have a thing for school stories. School stories are one of the great joys of children’s literature in that they do what they do so well. They tell a story in a frame which is familiarContinue reading “Murder Most Unladylike : Robin Stevens”

“Look back, but don’t stare” : what I want from the world of children’s literature in 2014

I recently got a copy of the Take That documentary Look Back, Don’t Stare from the charity shop near me. It’s an amazing documentary and one that, in a way, bears a lot of interest for me. In it, we see the boy-now-attractive-beardy-man-band Take That come to terms with working together as a five piece:Continue reading ““Look back, but don’t stare” : what I want from the world of children’s literature in 2014″

A 21st Century Chalet School Girl

I’ve mentioned this previously on Twitter but I thought I’d share it with you. This, the below, is part of my Great Project . I am writing a book about the Chalet School series. (I know, right? Joyous nerdery abounds) And these are the two introductory chapters. They’re subject to change, naturally, but I thoughtContinue reading “A 21st Century Chalet School Girl”

Fat, the Chalet School, and a bit of a rant

The other night, I had a dream. I woke up and I had a book idea, formed, whole in my hands. This book was to tell the story of girls in a genre that I love, that of the Girls’ Own Novel. The turn of the century boarding school story. The jolly japes and theContinue reading “Fat, the Chalet School, and a bit of a rant”

The New Normal : The Normalising of Creativity

Recently I’ve been thinking about doing a PhD ( Me! A PhD! Me who didn’t even get her GCSE Maths!), and as part of this I’ve been considering what I’d do it on. There’s a part of me that yearns, genuinely, just to get buried in the books and occasionally pop up and produce aContinue reading “The New Normal : The Normalising of Creativity”

“With love, me”

The letter. It’s a funny, glorious thing. The most vivid example I can think of in literature, straight away, is the letters Celie sends in the Colour Purple. Vivd, poignant, and heart-searingly true, her letters scar and heal – often both in the same paragraph. Children’s literature, and I apologise for the sweeping generalisation, reliesContinue reading ““With love, me””

When you read one book, but can’t stop thinking of another

It’s an act of literary bigamy. That moment when you pick up your new read but can’t help but contrast it against that other book you read. And it happened to me this week. I’m not going to review the new read because I don’t think I can do it objectively. I’ve got no bonesContinue reading “When you read one book, but can’t stop thinking of another”

Identifying geniuses in children’s literature

Genius is one of those almost unidentifiable things. You either have it, or you don’t, and until you become able to manifest it in ways we understand and can legitimise (ie: through a Mensa Test) , it may remain a relatively hidden talent. It’s a difficulty faced by geniuses in children’s literature and one that I’m goingContinue reading “Identifying geniuses in children’s literature”

Why read? The School Story

There are a whole world of genres in children’s literature, and there are new ones being created each and every day. In these posts, I’ll be focusing  on some of the key genres and both introduce them and offer some top hints on where to begin. My first in this occasional series is very closeContinue reading “Why read? The School Story”

The nature of genius in GirlsOwn Literature

Margia Bettany. Maidlin di Ravarati.Mildred Lancaster. Three characters, from three distinctly different authors. The one thing they have in common (apart from starting with the letter M..)? They’re all gifted and talented characters in their respective books. Genius in GirlsOwn Literature is a curious thing. It’s almost precluded to be gender specific due to the dominanceContinue reading “The nature of genius in GirlsOwn Literature”

New Beginnings at the *insert name here* School

This post is part of Playing By The Book’s blog carnival: “I’m looking for a book about…”. Every month bloggers convene on a given topic and this months is: (Starting) School. The concept of the new pupil arriving at school is a common conceit amongst school-stories. Whether ranging from gym-slip time-slip classics such as CharlotteContinue reading “New Beginnings at the *insert name here* School”

Meet the family (confessions of a book collector)

My books! My lovely lovely books! Behold the heart of my Temple of Solitude! The left hand side is all Brent-Dyer, and a few Lorna Hills on the bottom. When you’re a book collector, you remember where so many of them came from. It’s almost as important as the book itself. My Chalet School collectionContinue reading “Meet the family (confessions of a book collector)”

Robin Jarvis or Why The Old Ones Are Still The Best

I love my books. Being reunited with them is always an utter utter joy. I’m such a dork. I say hi to my mum, hi to my dad, pat the dog perfunctorily, tickle the cats and then race upstairs and stare lovingly at my babies. These shelves contain all the authors I can’t let go.Continue reading “Robin Jarvis or Why The Old Ones Are Still The Best”

Chin up, chest out – hold on a minute

I’m a little peeved. There’s a line which I’ve just read in Mary Cadogan’s Chin up chest out Jemima which is rankling with me. I’ll quote it here: “Of course I moved on from DFB, through Elsie Jeanette Oxenham and Elinor Brent-Dyer and others, eventually to adult literature.” (2004:15). Now I’m genuinely a fan of Cadogan’s work.Continue reading “Chin up, chest out – hold on a minute”

Gifted and Talented children in children’s literature

I’m working on my dissertation at present and am discussing the representation of Gifted and Talented Children in children’s literature. Following both a plea on Twitter (thanks Tweeps!) and Mailing Lists (thanks, er, Meeps?), I now have a fairly healthy list of G+T characters / titles which I thought I’d share. Anybody else you thinkContinue reading “Gifted and Talented children in children’s literature”

“Gosh, odds bodkins!” expostulated Jemima : The very curious tale of the British Boarding School story

There’s something distinctly British about the boarding school story. It struck me the other day on my commute home. For some reason I had Sally from Malory Towers stuck in my head. Good old solid loyal steadfast Sally (poor sod!) was always doomed to be second fiddle to Darrell’s central role. And then I gotContinue reading ““Gosh, odds bodkins!” expostulated Jemima : The very curious tale of the British Boarding School story”

Dimsie Moves Up : Dorita Fairlie Bruce

Dimsie Moves Up by Dorita Fairlie Bruce My rating: 3 of 5 stars In the world of Girlsown literature, there’s a concept of ‘the big four’. These are authors who formed the cornerstones of this genre: Elsie “Abbey” J Oxenham, Elinor “Chalet” M.Brent-Dyer, and Angela “Let’s use all the speech tags in the world” Brazil.Continue reading “Dimsie Moves Up : Dorita Fairlie Bruce”