I’m way overdue for continuing this (and plenty of other previously planned blogging intentions). Never mind.
I’m still not managing linear reading well and struggle to retain what I’m reading as I journey longform, so dip in and out of stories rather than read from front to end. I’ve probably not finished reading any of the books I mentioned in any previous posts for this and definitely haven’t got as far as any writing on any of them.
The challenge host, milae has reviewed the book read during February and made an excellent post.
I’m beginning to think that writing book reviews is just way out of my league and so I’ll continue admiring in awe those more able and take part slightly differently. My efforts have always received warm welcome and I’ve missed doing this during absences.
Anyway, as I’m a scatty and sporadic reader, this month I hope to focus on four books pictured below).
Four books I hope to focus on this month
I’ll definitely be able to cope with starting and finishing the first book: ‘Our plane’ written by Beatrice Phillpotts and illustrated by Margaret Souza. It was first published in 1987 © Templar Publishing Ltd and first published in Great Britain by Macdonald and Co (Publishers) Ltd (also 1987).
This edition I bought in a bargain bookstore – for new surplus stock and cut-price books with plenty of print errors in some of them – so I probably bought this for my eldest child by about 1993 or thereabouts and it probably cost about 99p or £2 or less at the time. I’d guess for this kind of product in that type of shop (still trading today) the retail prices have probably remained quite similar even after all these years, but I haven’t been to town to recently to check that fact before writing this post.
from the back cover of the young children’s book, ‘Our plane’
This edition (copyright 1987, as detailed in previous paragraph) was published in 1990 by Award Publications Ltd (London) and printed in Singapore. So boy did that book travel a long way and have a large carbon footprint. I don’t recall sight of any errors in the text though. I did however ponder upon how many times in the story I would feel a need to adjust my reading of the tale these days, if I were reading it to any of my grand-children. There seemed to be many sticking points along the way where I felt things needed rephrasing and were somehow less appropriate than i might have noticed as a young parent. It remains however a beautifully illustrated and well-told tale even if the characters are stereotypically: one boy, one girl, mum and dad, white family.
I have already re-read this story recently and have read it many, many times in the past with my children when they were young. I expect I must have added conversation about home safety with the reading of the story as two children play at making a plane by balancing a surf board across an ironing board to pretend it’s a plane and make an imaginary journey. Surf boards aren’t common household and leisure items owned by British families usually, so my guess is it’s an American story and I assume I realised that at the time I bought it. I can imagine myself leafing through to check the text for appropriate English spelling before buying. It has only universal English words where there would be no difference. What I didn’t notice at the time was the potential (small) racism contained in the story, in portraying desert people as ‘desert bandits’. I expect we talked about that while reading it too.
That’s not to say I won’t happily buy from American authors when I know it’s probably gonna be American English cos they can’t be bothered translating to proper English for their audience (or don’t know how and can’t afford translation costs) and as a reader I can just take a red pen and correct all the translation issues needed, explore meanings and make notes when I simply don’t understand what looks like the same language but sometimes isn’t. I suppose that’s what Americans do with our English, when they’re not trying to claim English as theirs (so ours is Anglisch is it? Well, if we’re descended from Angls, it could be…
As a paragraph previously track-pad-glitched to the-system, and I’m getting exhausted, I’m drawing a close here quite soon. Is what I was telling myself at that point.
Book number two, so far, is a fantastic book for children and an interesting easy-read for adults like me who just wanted to check for myself if it’s suitable reading before maybe passing it on or keeping it to read with grandchildren. First published in 1989, it’s cover price of £2.99 seems fair and it’s about what I’d expect to pay for a book of it’s small size (approx 130 pages, quite large print), even nowadays, although I sourced this from the fund-raising charity book sale quite a many moon ago now and I’d be happy if I paid £3.99 for it, as it seems very good quality writing. This is ‘Hippo Ghost’ by Lance Salway, ISBN: 0-590-13599-6 (I took the photo below of the front cover of the book and this shows my shadow over it. I like how that shadow fits with the subject matter of the story so far – I hope to manage reading this book through to the end during this month! – I also hope the author and publisher don’t object to my use of appropriative method, but my photo being low-resolution, illustrative, in context, and I assume Fair Use, as per all the images I’m using in this post. (As a personal, hobbyist blogger).
The third book, Oliver Twist is from a collection of about eight retold classics, bought for my eldest, never read by him, nor my youngest nor any between. As I found when I unpacked them from their stuff from their childhoods being kept at my house, these books still appear mostly untouched. But even for me, trying to read and understand ‘Oliver Twist’, again it’s probably the same issue: American language. And it’s uncomfortable when the authentic English voice of the story is lost, although it’s ok in most parts, but it causes stumbling blocks and confusion. I’d seen these sets of books in the same bookstore as the first book, at knockdown price of £4.99, previous RRP £9.99, maybe during the mid-1990s; my eldest received these as a gift about twenty years ago. This adaptation is ©1969 and this edition quoting a 1988 copyright act; it states it was ‘Printed in India. Reproduced in the UK.’ I’m not quite sure what that means. Really? As there is a ‘no unauthorised act in relation to this publication or…’ stipulation and as I do not recommend this text for British children and have no due regard nor respect for this product whatsoever I am not giving any detail at all. Not for fear of that ridiculously unprofessional clause, but so as not to inflict those particular books upon any other British English reader. Does the Trade Descriptions Act not apply to publishing industries when generating such misleading sales to consumers in the UK?
I’ll be making a separate post (elsewhere) sometime in the future, exploring the irony of this issue. If you are a Charles Dickens fan, you’re probably already aware of plenty of things I am yet finding to be interested in. The Gutenberg Project has many files pertaining to Charles Dickens and I assume most of them to be authentic texts but have already found one there that is so unlikely to be by THE Charles Dickens and has to simply be by an American author of the same name, so that was disappointing, but has to be expected really.
Finally, an old favourite, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Until I picked it up again recently I’d have swore the first chapter was ‘Shopping’ and had completely forgotten the gymnasium scene. I read this several times but want to delve into the detail of the story again, particularly the ‘PRAYVAGANZA’ scenes, as I don’t remember those featuring in the film, but could be wrong. I aim to check it against the film eventually as I should still have the VHS in a box here somewhere. Another thing for the evergrowing endless toDo list.
I thought I first read this book during A-level class as a teenager back in the mid-1980s, but my copy here is from 1993 when I tried A-level Literature evening class (completed the book, not the class – the teacher objected to teaching non-English authors in English literature class and wasn’t giving it the attention it deserved, rushing through and deriding it. At the time I thought that was daft as the exam title was ‘Literature’ and not ‘English Literature’. I wasn’t incentivised to resolve childcare and transport issues to continue the class and obtain my exam. Anyway, the language used is British English style in the main and I never had any stumbling over variant English differences with this text.
Detail from back cover of Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale ISBN 0 86068 866 6