Sunday, 22 June 2008

Birthday books


Oh dear, I've been so slow this week in keeping the blog up to date, but the real world overtook the virtual one (sickness in the family, etc etc).
Anyway, it was my birthday on Friday, and my older son has just finished his A-levels and left school, so rites of passage and empty nests are looming. Meanwhile, in between eating homemade carrot cake, I've been re-reading "Cannonball Simp", by John Burningham, which I've had for over four decades, since it was given to me as a birthday present when I was about four years old. It's one of my favourite ever books -- about a little black dog who is abandoned by its owner at a rubbish dump, and then finds a home with a clown at the circus. I knew it off by heart as a child, and then read it to my sons when they were little, and it has survived endless moves of house, not to mention countless sticky fingers. Needless to say, I now have a dog of my own, who isn't black, but nevertheless bears more than a passing resemblance to Simp, being a somewhat barrel-shaped mutt (mainly Jack Russell, but with ears like a Corgi). She's ten, and therefore past her youthful self (like me, though actually, in dog years, she's overtaken me), and is snoozing in the sunshine outside. In fact, she looks so peacefully comfortable, I think I might go and join her for a little while...

22 comments:

Bront√ęBlog Adm. said...

Happy belated birthday, Justine! :)

Justine Picardie said...

Thank you so much!

oxford-reader said...

Cannonball Simp was one of my favourite stories when I was a child! Indeed a rummage in my father's 'Granddaughters are GREAT!' box, filled with my old books and marbles and other things of likely interest has revealed my copy - plus all my Katie Morag stories, which I've been longing to read! Thanks for sending me in that direction!

Happy birthday too :-)

Juxtabook said...

Belated happy birthday Justine and commiserations on the looming empty nest. I am at the other end of the spectrum as my 4 year old will be starting full time education in September. Although she drives me crackers sometimes I will miss her perky little face coming round the kitchen door. It must be strange facing the gap/year or first year of uni of your eldest. All the best to you all.

Justine Picardie said...

Oxford-Reader, I'm glad that Cannonball Simp has turned up in your rummage box. How lovely to have a father who saves these precious things...
And Juxtabook -- it seems like yesterday that my 18 year old was starting school for the first day. I know that's a cliche -- but the time really does race by. Everyone said it to me when my sons were toddlers, and of course, there were some days when the hours crawled by (all those early mornings, with dawn wakings, when it seemed like the rest of the neighbourhood must be sleeping peacefully). But now, time seems to have accelerated, and the days have turned into years, and the little boys into strapping teenagers, and I'm thinking how did that happen so quickly?

Gondal-girl said...

have missed your posts Justine, glad you are back on board, hope you had a lovely birthday and that your family are feeling all better...i thought you may have had a writing surge come upon you. That English sunshine sounds lovely...very chilly here in Sydney, but then I think we are worse than the Brits when it comes to the cold. My partners cousin came out from Italy and had rages that it wasn't sunny all the time. Perhaps he shouldn't have believed the hype!!

Gondal-girl said...

have missed your posts Justine, glad you are back on board, hope you had a lovely birthday and that your family are feeling all better...i thought you may have had a writing surge come upon you. That English sunshine sounds lovely...very chilly here in Sydney, but then I think we are worse than the Brits when it comes to the cold. My partners cousin came out from Italy and had rages that it wasn't sunny all the time. Perhaps he shouldn't have believed the hype!!

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HelenMH said...

I love childhood books that you can keep forever. I have a very worn copy of The Adventures of Teddy Robinson that I could never think of parting with. Happy belated birthday.

oxford-reader said...

Justine, I'm throwing myself on your mercy and am asking a daft question: What is the date of midsummer? I have thoroughly confused myself, and feel sure that you would know, as your birthday falls close to (if not on) it!

Justine Picardie said...

Gondal girl -- thanks for your comments. It's hard for us to imagine anything other than blue skies in Australia!
Helen -- I remember that book! It's amazing, isn't it, how you can remember childhood stories with such intensity -- it's almost as if the story actually happened.
Oxford-Reader: hmmm, midsummer day. Well, the longest day of the year was June 21st, so that always seems to me to be midsummer. But some calenders have midsummer's day as June 24th, ie today!

Gondal-girl said...

yes it does rain ( sometimes closer to the coast) but the blue sky is higher than a cathedral and more beautiful... like today....

haven't read Simp, will check out for my nieces as they get older. Though it made me think for some reason a favourite childhood book, The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively...really captivated me

Finished If the Spirit moves you - I don't know what to say Justine, it was powerful and full of syndchronicity, moving and anxiety inducing and inspiring, makes me want to have a better relationship with my own sister, well I shall try, for she is my only blood sister on earth, though I have been blessed with ones of the shared heart and mind

Justine Picardie said...

Gondal Girl -- I met Penelope Lively when I was speaking at the Althrop Literary festival, so I'm definitely going to check out her children's book. (I haven't read it, but I love her adult books.) And I'm so glad to hear that you found resonances within If the Spirit Moves You. It's a book that was written from the heart...

Gondal-girl said...

Wow what a 'co-incidence' ( starting to believe they should be called something else) What was the wonderful Penelope Lively like?

I read it when I was 12 and am now 35 and it still has a spine shiver for me ( maybe it is those other world themes that are always tapping me on the shoulder). My Yr 6 teacher was about to throw it out and when I expressed dismay she said I could have it...The book has some great crows on the cover which drew me in now I recall...funny, lots of crows and raven talk on my blog and in my book...

Bront√ęBlog Adm. said...

I'm a fan of Penelope Lively too! I have read several of her adults books and she's such a great writer.

Justine, you seem to me to know everyone worth knowing!

Cristina.

oxford-reader said...

I'd certainly second that!

Justine Picardie said...

Thanks for all these lovely comments, everyone. I'm definitely going to order the Penelope Lively book RIGHT NOW. The universe seems to be gently chiming on this one...

dovegreyreader said...

Belated Happy Birthday to you x
And the empty nest thing? Well in my experience, try as you may to kick them out, like boomerangs they return...again...and again, bless them!

Blue Floppy Hat said...

A (very belated) happy birthday to you, and congratulations to your son on finishing his A-levels!

I'd never heard of Cannonball Simp before, but your description of it makes me feel like I missed out on something good- even if it's likely to make me cry (most stories involving neglected animals tend to do that to me).

Justine Picardie said...

Dovegreyreader-- thanks for the consoling words on empty nests.
Blue floppy hat -- welcome to the blog. And don't worry, there's a happy ending for Simp... so not too many tears, I hope.

simoncadbury said...

so how did you celebrate your birthday?

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simoncadbury said...

Burningham married author/illustrator Helen Gillian Oxenbury in 1964, and continued to write.

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