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”

First Term at Malory Towers : Enid Blyton

First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton My rating: 5 of 5 stars And so my Blyton marathon reaches another great classic, her series of school stories set at the deliciously described Malory Towers. It’s a school set nebulously on the Cornish coast somewhere, but the detail is what makes this school sing. Turrets.Continue reading “First Term at Malory Towers : Enid Blyton”

The New Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The New Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 5 of 5 stars There’s a moment in this book, relatively early on, where Joey is advised to rub butter on a bruise and it is a moment which fascinates me to this day. Would the butter have to be salted or unsalted? How muchContinue reading “The New Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

A United Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

A United Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars Full of the vibrant light and deft skill that characterises her early Tyrolean work, A United Chalet School sees Brent-Dyer working at the top of her powers. She’s on her way here to the great heights and nuances of The ChaletContinue reading “A United Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The Chalet School at War : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The Chalet School at War by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s easy for me to be flippant about the Chalet School and, to be frank, it is a mode I adopt quite often when discussing this bizarre, brilliant and all too frustrating series. But it is not easy for meContinue reading “The Chalet School at War : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The Sixth Form at St Clare’s : Pamela Cox

The Sixth Form at St. Clare’s by Pamela Cox My rating: 3 of 5 stars Thanks to my local charity shop, I recently picked up a batch of the Pamela Cox fill-in titles for both St Clare’s and Malory Towers and was a bit fascinated to see what I thought of them. I’d registered thatContinue reading “The Sixth Form at St Clare’s : Pamela Cox”

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”

Happy Birthday Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

It’s hard sometimes to quantify the influence that Brent-Dyer has had on my life. Clearly there are the obvious factors, such as my longing for every doctor to be both good in a crisis and rather dashing (and also a solid lump of comfort), and the fact that I now know enough German to order coffee andContinue reading “Happy Birthday Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

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”

#kidbkgrp School Stories in Children’s Literature

Last night #kidbkgrp discussed school stories in children’s literature. Now, I admit that this one might have been a little self-indulgent as a topic (Team Chalet, yo), I was fascinated to see the range of reccomendations that came up. I think there’s something really interesting in how so many people plumped for say Chalet SchoolContinue reading “#kidbkgrp School Stories in Children’s Literature”

First Term at L’Etoile : Holly & Kelly Willoughby

First Term at L’ Etoile by Holly & Kelly Willoughby My rating: 2 of 5 stars It will come as no surprise to you that I enjoy a school story. It’s a genre that is ripe and perfect for the reader to embrace, being as it is a reflection of a world experienced by prettyContinue reading “First Term at L’Etoile : Holly & Kelly Willoughby”

The Blue Lady : Eleanor Hawken

The Blue Lady by Eleanor Hawken My rating: 5 of 5 stars This book is the best school story I’ve read this year. I tweeted about this book and that feeling still stands. There’s something about The Blue Lady, that dark meshing of The Craft and the close, almost Stepfordian potential that the genre alwaysContinue reading “The Blue Lady : Eleanor Hawken”

Sunday round up and reflections

It’s that time of the week again! Here’s a catch-up of things in the world of children’s literature that you may have missed. Warning, it includes rants, farting and school stories. Well, would you expect anything less of me? 😉 1. Several new school stories have been released this week. They’re middle grade and theContinue reading “Sunday round up and reflections”

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”

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”

Bride leads the Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Bride Leads the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars I have a soft spot for Bride Leads the Chalet School because it’s one of those books where Important Things Happen. This is one of the ways that the Chalet School is almost impenetrable should you enter it at theContinue reading “Bride leads the Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

A Genius At The Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

A Genius at the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 3 of 5 stars It strikes me as curious that I’ve never actually reviewed this until now. Nina Rutherford is very much a fascination of mine and so this is a book that is very much overdue a review. Brent-Dyer once wrote aContinue reading “A Genius At The Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

Prefects of the Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Prefects of the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 1 of 5 stars There’s a sort of addictive quality to the Chalet School series when you reach this point; an awareness that the best books are many moons behind us and somehow all that’s left is melodrama and farce, but it’s a melodramaContinue reading “Prefects of the Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The Chalet School and Richenda : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The Chalet School and Richenda by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 3 of 5 stars I have a lot of love for this one, even though it’s left me with the following ailment. Whenever I’m introduced to somebody with the surname of “Fry”, I automatically think “Fry. Are you related to Elizabeth Fry, the greatContinue reading “The Chalet School and Richenda : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

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 Chalet School and Sickness

Once upon a time there was a fictional school with a predilection for near-death incidents. These ranged from the understandable (clinging onto a precipice in the middle of raging floods, climbing a mountain and er hanging off a precipice, or falling into a frozen lake – no precipices involved in that one) through to theContinue reading “The Chalet School and Sickness”

Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 5 of 5 stars The sixth in the series, rich with the gorgeous detail of the Tyrol and the sheer thrill of the early titles, Eustacia Goes To The Chalet School is spectacular. It’s sort of a blueprint of everything the Chalet SchoolContinue reading “Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The Paladin Prophecy : Mark Frost

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost My rating: 3 of 5 stars It’s always hard to know where to begin with a book that was as contradictory an experience as The Paladin Prophecy. The author, Mark Frost, has an excellent pedigree. He co-created Twin Peaks, wrote one of the funnier superhero films ‘The Fantastic Four’Continue reading “The Paladin Prophecy : Mark Frost”

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece : Annabel Pitcher

My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher My rating: 4 of 5 stars My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece is one of those ‘big’ books that I’ve been looking forward to reading for a while. I always get a bit wary of reading a ‘big’ book because I don’t know how I’ll feelContinue reading “My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece : Annabel Pitcher”

The Girl Savage : Katherine Rundell

The Girl Savage by Katherine Rundell My rating: 3 of 5 stars Stiffly written at points, and beautifully in others, The Girl Savage is a book of peaks and troughs. Ultimately it’s an awkward read but one that retains a powerful sense of heart throughout. It is, as you may gather, somewhat confusing. Wilhemina SilverContinue reading “The Girl Savage : Katherine Rundell”

The Unforgotten Coat : Frank Cottrell Boyce

Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce My rating: 5 of 5 stars Frank Cottrell Boyce writes magic. I am of no doubt that pretty much everything he publishes in the realm of children’s literature will be thought of as utter classics in the years to come. And, to be frank, they should be sung andContinue reading “The Unforgotten Coat : Frank Cottrell Boyce”

Ghost Knight : Cornelia Funke

Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke My rating: 4 of 5 stars Please note that this review refers to the Orion edition (October 2012 – 978 1 4440 0823). You can see a picture of this edition here and I very much recommend you do take a look – the front cover is just gorgeous andContinue reading “Ghost Knight : Cornelia Funke”

Children’s literature, food, and frenchwomen

Food is a central theme in children’s literature and school stories in particular. It’s something which has stayed eternally present from the cookery lessons of  the Chalet School, the roundness of Billy Bunter through to the chocolate frogs of Harry Potter. Food is a magical device and it’s particularly magical when used in the schoolContinue reading “Children’s literature, food, and frenchwomen”

Secrets, Lies and Locker 62 : Lil Chase

I picked up a proof of this at a conference I attended and I really didn’t know what to expect. Lil Chase didn’t ring a bell with me, but I decided to take a punt. And Oh My God, I’m so glad that I did. Maya, new girl at Mount Selwyn High, is assigned LockerContinue reading “Secrets, Lies and Locker 62 : Lil Chase”

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”

The Attic Term : Antonia Forest

The Attic Term by Antonia Forest My rating: 4 of 5 stars The penultimate in her series featuring the Marlow family, Attic Term is split mainly between Ginty and Lawrie / Nicola. They’re back at school. The twins are planning their form entertainment and Ginty is telephoning A BOY in those moments when people thinkContinue reading “The Attic Term : Antonia Forest”

Tales in School : Jacynth Hope-Simpson

Tales in School: An Anthology of Boarding-School Life by Jacynth Hope-Simpson My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’m always a little bit suspicious of anthologies. It seems that either they pull out the best bit (and then cut it), or the worst bit (and then over-extend it), or the most random bit (and then wallowContinue reading “Tales in School : Jacynth Hope-Simpson”

The Alice-Miranda Books

Back in April / May, I had the utmost pleasure to review the first two books in the Alice-Miranda series. These books by Australian author Jacqueline Harvey are very lovely stories all about the eponymous Alice-Miranda and her adventures. In the review of the second book, I mentioned that I planned to pass these onContinue reading “The Alice-Miranda Books”

Hollow Pike : James Dawson

Hollow Pike by James Dawson My rating: 4 of 5 stars Debut YA author James Dawson has written a sort of surprising novel here. Initially I read Hollow Pike with a horrendously blase attitude. Witches. Yawn. But then, it so got me. Dawson’s produced a sexy (that front cover is very indicative of the styleContinue reading “Hollow Pike : James Dawson”

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”

Alice-Miranda On Holiday : Jacqueline Harvey

Alice Miranda On Holiday by Jacqueline Harvey My rating: 4 of 5 stars The second in the Alice-Miranda series, Alice-Miranda on Holiday is (as the title suggests) focused on Alice-Miranda’s holiday from school. She’s back home at her beautiful house Highton Hall, full of luscious meals and exciting high-jinks, and (hurrah!) there’s skullduggery afoot! IfContinue reading “Alice-Miranda On Holiday : Jacqueline Harvey”

Alice-Miranda At School : Jacqueline Harvey

Alice-Miranda at School by Jacqueline Harvey My rating: 4 of 5 stars It’s Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones’ first term at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy For Proper Young Ladies and it’s all a little bit peculiar. The headmistress hasn’t been seen for ten years, there’s no flowers in the garden, and the staff are on the edge of a nervousContinue reading “Alice-Miranda At School : Jacqueline Harvey”

The Chalet School : If There’s A Mountain, We’ll Try To Jump Off It

I wondered once,  somewhat facetiously, how much the insurance premiums would be for the Chalet School. There are very few titles in the series that don’t have some sort of life-threatening incident. It’s one of the hallmarks of the Chalet School for me, that sort of insouciant disregard for Common Sense and staff members withContinue reading “The Chalet School : If There’s A Mountain, We’ll Try To Jump Off It”

The Girls’ Own Blog Carnival: Elinor M. Brent-Dyer round

  Hello! This is the final round up of posts for the Girls’ Own Blog Carnival round on Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. I will add (most welcome) latecomers to this list – so please keep an eye on it! 🙂 I’d like to thank the bloggers who took part in this round. Although it’s small, it’sContinue reading “The Girls’ Own Blog Carnival: Elinor M. Brent-Dyer round”

On Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

“The world of juvenile literature is made the poorer by the death on Saturday of Miss Elinor Brent-Dyer, whose 56 “Chalet School” stories, set in the Austrian Tyrol, attracted a huge readership from all over the world – not only of children but adults also.”  (The Times : 1969) Poorer. I like that. It speaksContinue reading “On Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The Girls’ Own Blog Carnival: First round up

I am so pleased to be able to share with you two early submissions for the Girls’ Own Blog Carnival on Elinor M. Brent-Dyer.  I will do another sweep of posts tomorrow (1st April) and post an update then. For now, please enjoy these amazing posts on Brent-Dyer and do leave a comment! Bert ofContinue reading “The Girls’ Own Blog Carnival: First round up”

It is a truth universally acknowledged…

… that Summer Term at the Chalet School is a little bit pants. Train crashes! Swarming wasps! Impoverished orphans! Craters! But oh, this illustration is superb. The edition I’m reading is a very tattered old hb (on loan from library) and so I’ll apologise for the picture quality. If I had a scanner, I’d haveContinue reading “It is a truth universally acknowledged…”

The Highland Twins at the Chalet School : Elinor M Brent-Dyer

The Highland Twins at the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 5 of 5 stars I used to always think that The Highland Twins at the Chalet School was one of the poorer books. Coming so soon after the dizzy heights of the Chalet School In Exile, I always found Highland Twins atContinue reading “The Highland Twins at the Chalet School : Elinor M Brent-Dyer”

Climbing a Monkey Puzzle Tree : Karen Wallace

  Climbing a Monkey Puzzle Tree by Karen Wallace My rating: 4 of 5 stars The trope of a new girl experiencing her first term at school is not a new trope. It is a conceit that pretty much forms the backbone of the school story genre. Climbing A Monkey Puzzle Tree by Karen WallaceContinue reading “Climbing a Monkey Puzzle Tree : Karen Wallace”

Eustacia and Eustace

The lovely Ali from Fantastic Reads has done a post which I am ridiculously pleased to be able to share with you today.  If you’ve not checked out Fantastic Reads, may I heartily reccommend it? Ali knows her children’s literature and her reviews and posts are always an utmost delight to read.  Now – to backContinue reading “Eustacia and Eustace”

Daniel and Esther : Patrick Raymond

Daniel & Esther by Patrick Raymond My rating: 5 of 5 stars Daniel & Esther is rather brilliant. I came across it after doing a post on children’s books set in and around Dartington Hall. I have a personal connection to this place (it’s where I attended university) and it was, in summary, amazing. Insular, rural,Continue reading “Daniel and Esther : Patrick Raymond”

The Chalet School and Genius

“That’s what comes of being a genius, my dear. You be thankful you aren’t one. It makes you a sickening nuisance to your friends and relatives at times!” Excitements at the Chalet School  Nina is unlike any other girl to join the Chalet School community. She’s really got no choice in being so unique. HerContinue reading “The Chalet School and Genius”

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”

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)”

Charlotte Sometimes : Penelope Farmer

Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer My rating: 5 of 5 stars Charlotte, new student at a boarding school, has one of those days we’ve all had when we’re new somewhere. Exhausted, nervy, confused, she goes to bed and wakes up in the same school forty years earlier. Turns out she’s swapped places with a schoolgirlContinue reading “Charlotte Sometimes : Penelope Farmer”

Antonia Forest : Livejournal

I do enjoy having a rummage around the internet. Look at yonder fab Antonia Forest Fans livejournal site thingy:- http://trennels.livejournal.com/  I am pretty much in love with this because, at time of writing, the last post is this which is all sorts of awesome:- “I just bought a copy of The Player’s Boy – whyContinue reading “Antonia Forest : Livejournal”

Beswitched : Kate Saunders

Beswitched by Kate Saunders My rating: 4 of 5 stars My love for school stories is fairly blatant. I’m a sucker for the Chalet School and have spent many happy hours at St Clares and Malory Towers. I even bought Wild Child on dvd just so I could check out how that boarding school compared.Continue reading “Beswitched : Kate Saunders”

“I take it we’re engaged? Like it darling?”

So. You may have heard that a certain couple is getting married tomorrow. As I’m never going to be the one to refuse the opportunity to jump onto a bandwagon, here are four of my favourite marriages /partnerships / expressions of love from children’s literature. Love, as one great sage once said, love changes everything.Continue reading ““I take it we’re engaged? Like it darling?””

“We want to make strong, helpful women of them – not spineless jellyfish!”

Jo returns to the Chalet School sees the beloved headmistress, Mademoiselle Leppâtre, discovered unconscious in her room and rushed to the Sonnalpe for an emergency operation. If it fails she’ll die. It’s not the first time that the reader of the Chalet School series has been presented with illness. In fact there are times when the early TyroleanContinue reading ““We want to make strong, helpful women of them – not spineless jellyfish!””

“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”