A brain full of fluff

I fondly imagined myself writing witty musings on literary topics – mainly on children’s literature of course – but that includes some of the best there is (not to mention some of the worst).

Strangely, though, the contents of my brain seem to consist mostly of fluff – much more Winnie the Pooh than Owl. At least an hour’s valuable thinking time tonight went something like, “Ner na ner na, shall I cook the fish or the veggie thingies from the freezer? Oooh mustn’t forget to put the recycling out. Ner na ner, could have a shower while the food cooks,” etc, etc.

The comedian Mark Watson says he is going to do a blog every day for 10 years apparently  – phew! Suddenly, I’m impressed.

One of the things blogging demands is a good memory. For a start, to get to this page I had to set up (yet another) password/username combo. I already have 3 for emails, then there’s Amazon, facebook, rail ticket sites (2 or 3 different, can’t really remember), theatre tickets and many more. I don’t think that’s exceptional: there must be plenty of people out there with more online accounts than me.

So, perhaps it would give children a good start in the eworld to start learning to memorise things again. This was on its way out when I was at school – and I have to say I was glad of it, never being great at committing reams of verse to memory. I’ll quickly add (before being lynched by the teachers of my acquaintance) that I’m not suggesting that rote-learning is the way to go! Definitely not! I was thinking of handy tricks to aid the memory; mnemonics, rhymes, patterns, that sort of thing.

Now I think I have worked back round to my previous instalment’s topic; namely good storytime books. Because, what my ‘bests’ seem to have in common is just the sort of patterns that make remembering them easy. If you have read to your own children, siblings, nieces/nephews or kids at nursery/playgroup or if you were read-to as a child, can you recite sections of your favourites? Or the ones that drove you nuts?

For instance, in far-off Langcliffe Playgroup days, we used to do an action rhyme starting, “We’re going on a bear hunt…” It was popular with the kids and I loved doing the actions and noises – “through the short grass, swish, swish, swish; through the long grass, swooooosh, swooooosh, swoooosh….” and so on. A few years later, Michael Rosen made a book of the same story. It’s an excellent book and children love it. We are lucky enough to have a giant-sized version for the Book Lounge and it is one of the most popular Storytime reads.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alice
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 22:24:56

    I’ve just thought of an excellent choice: Hairy Maclairy From Donaldson’s Dairy!! Lovely books :o)


  2. anncarningli
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 23:01:54


    He’s from New Zealand I believe (or Australia, maybe? I’ll find out.) I “had” to read from a Hairy MacLairy omnibus edition to a friend’s children not so long ago. Hadn’t realised how many there were.

    The other antipodean dog character I was trying to remember was Harry the Dirty Dog. There are at least a couple of stories about Harry. In the first, he gets so dirty he turns from a white dog with black spots to a dog that’s black all over. In another, he is trying to get rid of an embarrassing hand-knitted jumper. He is an endearing character.


  3. Alice
    Mar 19, 2011 @ 20:53:05

    Heehee I like the sound of that!


    • anncarningli
      Mar 20, 2011 @ 17:08:42

      Hairy McLary is indeed from New Zealand. The author, Lynley Dodd has been made a Dame for her services to children’s literature (she does the illustrations too). There are currently no less than 19 Hairy McLary books!

      I also discovered that her first children’s book, co-written with a cousin, was “My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes.” That is another good one. No surprise to learn it was based on a real family pet – could have been our Katy!


  4. anncarningli
    Mar 20, 2011 @ 17:33:15

    Oh no!

    I have now found out I was wrong about Harry the Dirty Dog. I thought there were clues in the pictures that he lived in Dunedin (New Zealand). But reviews etc on t’internet are all telling me that his author, Gene Zion, was a New Yorker and his illustrator, Margaret Bloy Graham (married to Gene Zion) came from Toronto, Canada but had been living in New York since 1941. The first Harry book came out in 1956 and, though the pictures do have a pleasantly retro feel, I think it is basically a timeless tale.


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