[openbook booknumber=”1553378830″ templatenumber=”1″]
The Strictest School in the World, Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken, by Harold Whitehouse.
This is a book I read about at Hilltop Farm a while back, and at Big A little a a much longer while before that but then I forgot about it until the Hilltop Farm post reminded me. Methinks we’re going to enjoy this tale, which gets off to a fine start with lively characters such as a young female aeronautics enthusiast, an eccentric natural-foods-loving auntie given to serving up dishes like earwig curry and rhubarb-centipede-dandelion crumble, and a tactful Sikh butler. I’m reading it to Rose and Beanie (the others are welcome to listen in), and it’ll be the centerpoint of a little cruise we’ll be taking through the Victorian era during the next month or two.
[openbook booknumber=”9780806966120″ templatenumber=”5″] Who better to pull off the shelf next than Tennyson? We read “The Mermaid” and “The Eagle” and, because his language practically begs you to, talked about alliteration and imagery and simile. Like that gorgeous bit in Mermaid when “that great sea-snake under the sea / From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps / Would slowly trail himself sevenfold / Round the hall…” Wonderfully creepy, that, and then the surprise of the sea serpent not attacking but instead looking “in at the gate /With his large calm eyes for the love of me”—delicious. And the Eagle’s lonely lands and wrinkled sea, so incredibly evocative.
This particular volume, part of the Poetry for Young People series, only includes the first two stanzas of “The Mermaid,” so perhaps we’ll look at the third stanza another day, as well as its companion poem, “The Merman,” while we’re at it.
[openbook booknumber=”9780806955414″ templatenumber=”1″] After that we indulged in a bit of Lewis Carroll—“Jabberwocky” at the 12-year-old’s request. Reading that poem aloud may be rather like eating a rhubarb, centipede, and dandelion crumble—all sorts of intriguing and unnerving textures in the mouth.