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“Let us read, and let us dance;
these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Monday, 28 October 2013

Man Booker Shortlist - Book 04 - We need new names - NoViolet Bulawayo

I made this: Avid Reader at 8:00 am 0 comments Links to this post


WoodsieGirl's 
Man Booker
Challenge

Our good friend WoodsieGirl has read all the books on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize for the last few years. This is not because she is an avid reader, with varied interests and is constantly on the lookout for new great fiction. She does this purely to mock my inability to organize my book list. Honestly. It's evil. 

Anyhoo, once again, she has kindly written up reviews of each book for us.  

WE NEED NEW NAMES
NOVIOLET BULAWAYO


THE BLURB (Amazon)
'To play the country-game, we have to choose a country. Everybody wants to be the USA and Britain and Canada and Australia and Switzerland and them. Nobody wants to be rags of countries like Congo, like Somalia, like Iraq, like Sudan, like Haiti and not even this one we live in - who wants to be a terrible place of hunger and things falling apart?'

Darling and her friends live in a shanty called Paradise, which of course is no such thing. It isn't all bad, though. There's mischief and adventure, games of Find bin Laden, stealing guavas, singing Lady Gaga at the tops of their voices.

They dream of the paradises of America, Dubai, Europe, where Madonna and Barack Obama and David Beckham live. For Darling, that dream will come true. But, like the thousands of people all over the world trying to forge new lives far from home, Darling finds this new paradise brings its own set of challenges - for her and also for those she's left behind.
THE REVIEW
NoViolet Bulawayo's We Need New Names is a coming-of-age tale. It follows a young girl, Darling, through her childhood in the optimistically named Paradise, a slum somewhere in Zimbabwe, and her move to America as a young adolescent. 

In the first part of the book, we meet Darling's gang of friends in Paradise - kids with names like Godknows and Bastard, who spend their days playing games made up from hearing the news around them (like "Find Bin Laden") and leading raids on the nearby, wealthy town to steal guavas from the trees. Life is hard in Paradise: there are frequent references to the children's hunger (hence the guava raids), and hints of the violence that characterises their lives. In one memorable chapter the kids find the dead body of a young woman hanging from a tree, and after initially running terrified from the scene, they return when one of them points out that the dead woman's shoes looked new, so they could make good money from selling them. Darling's father is dying of AIDS, and 11-year-old Chipo is pregnant after being raped by her grandfather. However, it's not a bleak book: despite the hardship, Darling and her gang of friends act much as children everywhere do, accepting the world the way it is and playing their games.

We see the social and political upheaval of the area through the children's eyes, as they describe incidents they don't really understand: such as the displacement of their families from their homes that lead to their lives in Paradise, and the initial jubilation followed by disappointment of democratic elections in the country. Sometimes these moments are successful, but I sometimes found them a bit unconvincing: as when the children act out the murder of a revolutionary leader. This could have been a very powerful scene, and it is graphic enough to pack a punch, but I just found it a bit contrived. By comparison, another scene describing a visit from an NGO handing out toys and clothes for the children, and food for the adults, is much more affecting - Bulawayo does a fantastic job of portraying the children's excitement at the visit, mixed with the shame they feel and sense from the adults. "They just like taking pictures, these NGO people...they don’t care that we are embarrassed by our dirt and torn clothing, that maybe we would prefer they didn't do it...We don’t complain because after the picture-taking comes the giving of gifts."

All the children dream of escaping Paradise, but it's only Darling who manages it: she has an aunt in America, and as a young teenager she is sent to live with her. The second half of the book focuses on Darling's life in America, and the disappointment she finds. It is not how she expected it: it is cold (Darling is unnerved by the snow: "coldness that makes like it wants to kill you, like it's telling you, with its snow, that you should go back to where you came from."), unfriendly, and she misses the familiar sights, sounds and smells of Paradise. Ultimately she feels guilty for leaving Paradise. When she speaks to Chipo (by now raising a young daughter) on the phone, Chipo chides her: "You think watching on the BBC means you know what is going on? No, you don't...it's us who stayed here feel the real suffering."

We Need New Names is a book with a lot to say about Zimbabwe, immigration, cultural and physical displacement, poverty and relative poverty. However, I didn't think it hung together all that well as a novel. It felt more like a series of short stories, and I think it might have worked better in that way. The second half of the book in particular is fragmented, which made it difficult to really get invested in the story or with the characters. I enjoyed it, but I don't think it's the strongest off the shortlist - it's not a patch on The Lowlands, which deals with some similar themes.

The @WoodsieGirl Challenge 2013

Shortlist 06 - The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton
Shortlist 05 - The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri
Shortlist 04 - We need new names - NoViolet Bulawayo
Shortlist 03 - A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
Shortlist 02 - Harvest - Jim Crace
Shortlist 01 - The Testament of Mary - Colm Toibin


The @WoodsieGirl Challenge 2012

Shortlist 06 - Umbrella - Will Self
Shortlist 05 - Bring up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel
Shortlist 04 - The Lighthouse - Alison Moore
Shortlist 03 - Swimming Home - Deborah Levy
Shortlist 02 - Narcopolis - Jeet Thayil
Shortlist 01 - The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng

Visit her blog HERE
Visit her other blog HERE

* * * * *
Guest Stars - Table of Contents
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Full - Table of Contents
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Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Doubleclicks - Nothing to Prove

I made this: Niamh Foley at 1:30 pm 0 comments Links to this post
I apologise now to anyone kind enough to follow more than one of my blogs. This is going to be a cross-post.

It's just BRILLIANT and I'm actually a little emotional after reading many of the placards. 

For such a long time I would refuse to call myself a geek (aside from the whole 'do I really need to put a label on this?') because I felt that I hadn't anything like the knowledge base to justify the title. 




It was meeting people like @SteveCult, @BookElfLeeds @Cidergirli, @LYOC8, our awesome Browncoats captian and the team at @OKComics that demonstrated that 'Geek' isn't a closed garden, a preserve of tech wizards - rather it's anything that makes you passionate, inspires you and teaches you outside of the mainstream. 

Fortunately, I've never encountered any gender based bias so I would have been just as happy to have an equal gender mix of geeks represented in the video. 
The cons that I attend are usually fairly evenly split and the guys that attend aren't dicks so it's never been an issue for me personally, ditto with my book clubs and certainly within the Whedon fandom, equality and inclusion tends to be a given.  
But from the reports coming out of certain sections of the gaming community and fandom as a whole in the US, I appreciate the need for this song and the wonderful representation it provides. 

Anyway, sorry this is a bit long. And possible lacking in coherency. I'm just in the midst of having all the *feels* right now. 

Must be a chick thing right? ;)  


Monday, 14 October 2013

Man Booker Shortlist - Book 03 - A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki

I made this: Avid Reader at 8:00 am 1 comments Links to this post

WoodsieGirl's 
Man Booker
Challenge

Our good friend WoodsieGirl has read all the books on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize for the last few years. This is not because she is an avid reader, with varied interests and is constantly on the lookout for new great fiction. She does this purely to mock my inability to organize my book list. Honestly. It's evil. 

Anyhoo, once again, she has kindly written up reviews of each book for us.  


A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING
RUTH OZEKI

THE BLURB (from Amazon)
'Hi! My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is? Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.'
Ruth discovers a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore of her beach home. Within it lies a diary that expresses the hopes and dreams of a young girl. She suspects it might have arrived on a drift of debris from the 2011 tsunami. With every turn of the page, she is sucked deeper into an enchanting mystery.
In a small cafe in Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao Yasutani is navigating the challenges thrown up by modern life. In the face of cyberbullying, the mysteries of a 104-year-old Buddhist nun and great-grandmother, and the joy and heartbreak of family, Nao is trying to find her own place - and voice - through a diary she hopes will find a reader and friend who finally understands her.
Weaving across continents and decades, and exploring the relationship between reader and writer, fact and fiction, A Tale for the Time Being is an extraordinary novel about our shared humanity and the search for home.
THE REVIEW
A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki, is a strange and sprawling book. It's two intertwining stories: that of Nao (pronounced 'now'), a Japanese schoolgirl writing a diary about what she intends to be the last days of her life; and Ruth, a Japanese-American writer who finds Nao's diary washed up on the shores of her remote Canadian home. The chapters alternate between Nao's diary (translated and with added footnotes and comments from Ruth), and Ruth's story of reading the diary and trying to find out what it means and what has happened to Nao.

Both tales are fairly sad. Nao, having grown up in Silicon Valley but moved back to Japan as a teenager when the dotcom bubble burst and her father lost his job, doesn't fit in and is horrifically bullied by her classmates (culminating in an attempted rape and a humiliating online auction of her underwear). Her parents don't seem aware of their daughter's struggles - particularly her suicidal father. Her only real support comes from her grandmother Jiko, a Buddhist nun.

Ruth's tale is less dramatic, but still melancholy. She is suffering from writers' block, grieving from the recent death of her mother, and struggling to adjust to life on a remote island in British Columbia, having moved there from New York to be with her husband. She becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Nao. Her claustrophobic days spent Googling Nao and her family and avoiding her gossipy neighbours are a sharp counterpoint to the drama of Nao's life.

Weaving through both stories are some pretty big themes - taking in Zen Buddhism, Japanese kamikaze pilots of the second world war, the morality of suicide, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011, the nature of time and memory, oceanic currents and the Pacific gyre, and even quantum mechanics. It's an ambitious novel, and it's hard not to be impressed at its scope.

So I'm not really sure why I didn't enjoy it more. For some reason, despite being impressed at the ideas and the ambition behind it, I just couldn't get into the story. It could be that I found the teenage narrator, Nao, incredibly irritating - I did sympathise with her plight, but her voice really grated on me after a while. I also really didn't enjoy the sections of the book that veer into magical realism. This is entirely a personal preference, so other readers who do enjoy magical realism may get a lot more out of the book than I did, but I generally don't get on with that particular genre!

Although the concept and the ideas within the book are fascinating, ultimately I think the writing lets it down. It's certainly not as strong as the previous two Booker shortlisters I've read so far (Jim Crace's Harvest and Colm Toibin's The Testament of Mary), so I don't think it's a likely contender for the winner.
The @WoodsieGirl Challenge 2013

Shortlist 06 - The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton
Shortlist 05 - The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri
Shortlist 04 - We need new names - NoViolet Bulawayo
Shortlist 03 - A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
Shortlist 02 - Harvest - Jim Crace
Shortlist 01 - The Testament of Mary - Colm Toibin


The @WoodsieGirl Challenge 2012

Shortlist 06 - Umbrella - Will Self
Shortlist 05 - Bring up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel
Shortlist 04 - The Lighthouse - Alison Moore
Shortlist 03 - Swimming Home - Deborah Levy
Shortlist 02 - Narcopolis - Jeet Thayil
Shortlist 01 - The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng

Visit her blog HERE
Visit her other blog HERE

* * * * *
Guest Stars - Table of Contents
* * * * *

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Monday, 7 October 2013

Man Booker Shortlist Book 02 - Harvest - Jim Crace

I made this: Avid Reader at 8:00 am 0 comments Links to this post

WoodsieGirl's 
Man Booker
Challenge

Our good friend WoodsieGirl has read all the books on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize for the last few years. This is not because she is an avid reader, with varied interests and is constantly on the lookout for new great fiction. She does this purely to mock my inability to organize my book list. Honestly. It's evil. 

Anyhoo, once again, she has kindly written up reviews of each book for us.  


HARVEST
JIM CRACE

THE BLURB (from Amazon)
As late summer steals in and the final pearls of barley are gleaned, a village comes under threat. A trio of outsiders – two men and a dangerously magnetic woman – arrives on the woodland borders and puts up a make-shift camp. That same night, the local manor house is set on fire. Over the course of seven days, Walter Thirsk sees his hamlet unmade: the harvest blackened by smoke and fear, the new arrivals cruelly punished, and his neighbours held captive on suspicion of witchcraft. But something even darker is at the heart of his story, and he will be the only man left to tell it . . . Told in Jim Crace’s hypnotic prose, Harvest evokes the tragedy of land pillaged and communities scattered, as England’s fields are irrevocably enclosed. Timeless yet singular, mythical yet deeply personal, this beautiful novel of one man and his unnamed village speaks for a way of life lost for ever.

THE REVIEW
 Harvest is Jim Crace's second book to be shortlisted for the Booker (he was shortlisted in 1997 for Quarantine). It is his 11th book, and he has said it will be his last - although authors announcing they're quitting writing rather puts me in mind of people who rage-quit Twitter, and then are quietly back a week later...

In Harvest, Crace tells the story of seven devastating days in an unnamed English rural village, in an unspecified time period (probably late middle ages?). The book opens with two linked events, on the eve of the harvest: a fire is started at the manor house; and three strangers appear on the village borders. The strangers are quickly (and wrongly) blamed for the fire, setting into action a violent chain of events that hastens the village's demise: as, unbeknown to the villagers, their way of life is about to be taken from them. Their common land is to be enclosed for sheep to graze on - wool production being more profitable: "the sheaf is giving way to the sheep".

The story is told through the eyes of Walter Thirsk, a local man for the past 12 years but still regarded as an outsider - as becomes clearer as the events of the week unfold and the villagers close ranks against these outside threats. Walter had arrived in the village as the servant of Master Kent, who had inherited the manor house through marriage. Now 12 years on, with Master Kent's wife dead, leaving him no heir and therefore no claim on the manor, the new lord of the manor, Master Jordan, arrives to claim his inheritance and usher in the changes that will drive the villagers from their land and deprive them of their land and their ability to feed and support themselves. 

On one level, Harvest is a superb historical novel. It's a vivid depiction of the lives of subsistence farmers in the middle ages. I loved the descriptions of the harvest, and of the traditions and rituals that surround it - such as the harvest feast, and the selection of a "Gleaning Queen" from among the village girls. I also really enjoyed the depiction of the tensions, rivalries, family feuds and gossip of such a small, closely-knit settlement - where there are only a few family names, and everyone is related to one another either by blood or by marriage. The link between the people and the land is close - these are people that have lived in the same way, on the same land for generations. It is this that makes the threat of enclosure so dire: it is not just the land that is threatened, but the very history of the village:

"We're used to looking out seeing what's preceded us, and what will also outlive us. Now we have to contemplate a land bare of both. Those woods that linked us to eternity will be removed by spring... flocks will chomp back on the past until there is no trace of it."

On a deeper level, Harvest is also an allegory for displacement and exclusion. The main protagonists are all outsiders: Walter Thirsk, still not accepted despite marrying into and living among the villagers for 12 years; Master Kent, who stands apart as the lord of the manor already, but whose precarious position is exposed by the arrival of Master Jordan; Mr Quill, the mapmaker employed to map out the land and the new enclosures, who cannot find a place among either the villagers or the masters; and Master Jordan himself, who wields his outsider status as a weapon, imposing devastating changes on a land and people that he neither understands nor cares to. And then there are the three strangers whose arrival is the catalyst for the changes that ensue - two men and a "dangerously magnetic" woman - displaced from their own land by the same type of enclosure that is threatened here. By the end of the novel the villagers, their efforts to present a united front to all these outsiders having proved worthless, have lost their land and become wandering outsiders themselves.

I thought this was an excellent book. The writing is vivid and detailed - occasionally comical, but mostly tragic. The narrative occasionally wanders a bit, as our narrator struggles to make sense of events that are rapidly overtaking him, but this just added to the general sense of powerlessness within the novel. My only complaint is about the characterisation of the woman who appears with the trio of outsiders at the beginning of the novel - or rather, the lack of characterisation. We are told she is "enthralling to behold in ways they never could explain". We never find out her name - the villagers nickname her Mistress Beldam: "Beldam, the sorceress. Belle Dame, the beautiful". And all the village men - our narrator, Master Kent and Mr Quill included - appear instantly infatuated with her. And I was never satisfied as to why: either why Mistress Beldam is so beguiling, or why it was necessary for the purposes of the plot that she be so. Perhaps I'm missing something here, but it just irritated me: the "beautiful, mysterious woman" trope is so overused in fiction, and I really expect better of a Booker shortlister.

Other than that point, which irritated me but didn't spoil the book for me, I really enjoyed Harvest. Based on this and The Testament of Mary, this is shaping up to be a very strong shortlist indeed!


The @WoodsieGirl Challenge 2013

Shortlist 06 - The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton
Shortlist 05 - The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri
Shortlist 04 - We need new names - NoViolet Bulawayo
Shortlist 03 - A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
Shortlist 02 - Harvest - Jim Crace
Shortlist 01 - The Testament of Mary - Colm Toibin


The @WoodsieGirl Challenge 2012

Shortlist 06 - Umbrella - Will Self
Shortlist 05 - Bring up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel
Shortlist 04 - The Lighthouse - Alison Moore
Shortlist 03 - Swimming Home - Deborah Levy
Shortlist 02 - Narcopolis - Jeet Thayil
Shortlist 01 - The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng

Visit her blog HERE
Visit her other blog HERE

* * * * *
Guest Stars - Table of Contents
* * * * *

Full - Table of Contents
* * * * *

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Happy National Poetry Day!

I made this: Avid Reader at 10:20 am 0 comments Links to this post
Happy National Poetry Day.




I taught myself to love simply
Anna Akhmatova


I taught myself to live simply and wisely,
to look at the sky and pray to God,
and to wander long before evening
to tire my superfluous worries.
When the burdocks rustle in the ravine
and the yellow-red rowanberry cluster droops
I compose happy verses
about life's decay, decay and beauty.
I come back. The fluffy cat
licks my palm, purrs so sweetly
and the fire flares bright
on the saw-mill turret by the lake.
Only the cry of a stork landing on the roof
occasionally breaks the silence.
If you knock on my door
I may not even hear.





Enid Blyton Challenge Book 08 - The Boy Next Door

I made this: Avid Reader at 8:00 am 0 comments Links to this post
One of our Superstar Guest Stars has agreed to a new challenge based on our chats relating to #LBCPuffins.

Can't wait to read each review as they come! Huge thanks - as always - to Helen...though now I think on it...missing out on all these wonderful stories... Clearly we need each other!

Helen's Enid Blyton Challenge



About the Author

The Boy Next Door

THE BLURB (Taken from the back of this edition)
First edition 1944 my edition 1951About the book: Robin, Betty and Lucy are delighted when some new people move into the empty house close to theirs – especially when they spot a boy of their own age over the fence. But a sinister mystery surrounds Kit, the boy next door – a secret so terrible that he is forced to live like a prisoner. The children try to help him escape- and find themselves in a desperate struggle against a ruthless criminal. 
THE REVIEW


*****SPOILERS*****



This for me has to be the best so far. Obviously it doesn’t compete with the book of Brownies for nostalgia reasons but as for writing and a story it’s almost as if it wasn’t Enid Blyton. A mixture of Secret Seven and Famous Five but with a bit more danger thrown in. 

The story begins with us meeting Betty who is awaiting the arrival of her brother Robin, home from boarding school for the summer and her cousin Lucy and her dog Sandy come to stay.



Robin returns home feeling much older and doesn’t want to play with the girls thinking girls can’t catch and wishes for another boy to play with. They are told a new family are coming to stay next door and the children hope, well Robin hopes that it is another boy to play with. They hear a lot of howling from next door and sure enough there is a boy dressed as a Red Indian, we soon discover is They decide they are going to dress up and seek next door to give the boy a fright. However the boy captures them and ties each of them to a tree and disappears. The woman who had been sat reading when they first looked into the garden comes across them and is shocked to find them. They tell her the boy tied them up and she exclaims there never was one. She unties them and tells them never to come back. 
Later a ball comes over the fence with a message in it explaining that he would like to meet but the hole has been covered up in the hedge where they entered, and that another rout must be found but they must not be seen. The children begin to wonder what kind of mystery is going on next door if the boy they met ‘does not exist!’


The story leads on to the discovery that the boy is in hiding from his ‘evil uncle’ since his father was killed in a plane crash leaving him an orphan and very rich and that ever since his ‘evil uncle’ has kidnapped him twice and is trying again to gain his fortune. The children do find a way to meet again and discover a houseboat on the river which a gentleman - Mr Cunningham - agrees to let them have for two slices of birthday cake. The children set about redecorating the boat and plan ways to seek Kit out onto the boat so they can have picnics and adventures.
Then one day they find out Mr Cunningham has gone abroad and the children and told by two nasty men to stay clear of the boat as they want peace and quiet. However it turns out they are working for Kit’s Uncle and they hide the boat. It’s discovered by Robin later on under some willows down a back stretch of the river and has had its windows bordered up.

A few days later Robin wonders what has happened to Kit and goes next door to investigate and discovers Kit locked in his bedroom. After hearing Mr Barton climb the stairs he hides only to be discovered by the adults. Robin makes his escape but only just and runs to tell the girls. He decides he must go back and help Kit and in doing so discovers that Mr Barton is plotting with the ‘evil Uncle’ to have the boy kidnapped again. Robin decides it would be best to hide Kit and takes him to the boat, only to discover later that is where the evil Uncle was planning to hide him. Its here where the adventure reaches its climax and good again conquers evil with a few surprises on the way.

This to me was a child’s introduction to mystery and crime writing and if I had children I would definitely read this to them. I was totally gripped and found myself shouting ‘no don’t do that, it’s a trap!’ It involved kids using their imaginations, wits, looking out for each other, and learning that not all adults are friendly. They climbed trees, dug holes, played games, made dens and created a friendship that would last forever, a childhood everyone should have.

P.S. 
Whilst writing this I tried researching the book and found very little apart from this the Enid Blyton society and this blog HERE.

Next book: Mr Galliano's Circus

The Book List

Dec - The Twins at St Clare's
Nov - The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat
Oct - The Naughtiest School Girl
Sep - Mr Galliano’s Circus
Aug - The Boy Next Door
Jul - Adventures of the wishing Chair
Jun - The Magic Faraway Tree
May - The Enchanted Wood
Apr - The Adventures of Scamp
Mar - Secret Seven
Feb - Five on a treasure Island
Jan - The Book of Brownies

Helen tweets from @isfromupnorth and has her own blog Hello from me to you. It's worth bookmarking because Helen knows EVERYONE and is involved in all sorts of lovely events!

The Hobbit (book) review


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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

LBC Puffins - Book 03 - Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

I made this: Avid Reader at 8:31 pm 0 comments Links to this post

LBC Puffins


Venue: Outlaws Yacht Club
Date:  Wednesday, 9th of July 2013
Time:  6pm
Address: 38 New York Street, LS2 YDY


DISCUSSING:


MRS FRISBY 

AND THE RATS OF NIMH

ROBERT C O'BRIEN

BLURB
Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma.

THE AUTHOR (from Goodreads)
Robert Leslie Conly (better known by his pen name, Robert C. O'Brien) was an American author and journalist for National Geographic Magazine. Conly was the third of five children from a wealthy Irish-Catholic family. With interests in music and literature, Conly entered Williams College in 1935 but left in his second year. He then went through a period that he referred to as his "breakdown", briefly working in Albany, New York before going back to his family in disgrace. Although he later studied for a time at Juilliard, he went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Rochester in 1940.

Are you sitting comfortably? 

Then I shall begin.


As the clock ticked 6:30 in the White Swan pub in Leeds, The children sat in a circle, crossed legged and fingers to lips ready to hear the story of the field mouse and her struggle to survive just as a rogue dog joined the meeting disrupting the silence only to ask the question was Harry Potter a Mormon or is he an Aura?

Sometime last year this is the book that kicked off another addition to the big family we all know as Leeds Book club. It started with a tweet after a discussion with a fellow book clubber one evening at book club about how much I enjoyed this book and then the next day I noticed a feed discussing this and LBCPuffins was born.

Let me explain. A few years back I started reading kids books because I got so bored of adult fiction because it just had so much information in them that I felt a bit overwhelmed, that I switched to reading kids books for a short while. This is one in particular is one of the books I read at school and has always stayed with me. I think we did a project on it in English class but I can’t remember what. When I last visited my Mum’s I picked this up and it still didn’t disappoint.

A lot of it I had forgotten. I remember it was a fight for survival and that was it. The story is about a field mouse that has to overcome all sorts of obstacles to protect her family when it comes to ploughing day because her youngest son is ill and cannot move. She has to go seek help from an unlikely source, a group of rats. It is here where we find out about her husband and the need to escape the farm. I personally had forgotten about the rats and how they had become so intelligent and the conflict with Dragon the cat.
‘“The Rat Race”- which. I learned, means a race where no matter how fast you run, you don’t get anywhere. But there was nothing in the book about rats 7 I felt bad about the title because I thought, it wasn’t a rat race at all. It was a people race, and no sensible rat would ever do anything foolish’.
A part of me thinks it’s about self discovery and what we do to protect ourselves and others in what we tell them and do. At one point I did feel myself going ‘No Mrs Frisby don’t do that!’ and 
because I couldn’t remember the ending. I was hoping the ending was not going to be sad. I think as a child you miss quite a lot of what is written in there, you’re just reading a story and not 
looking for things and to reread it as an adult gives it a new perspective and also brings back fond memories. 
‘All doors are hard to unlock until you have the key’
In the discussion at the White Swan while munching on white chocolate mice, we found that the book was perhaps trying to teach us a lot about solving problems and conflicts. Such as Mrs 
Frisby stumbling across Jeremy the crow, on her way back from Mr Ages (the field mouse who is a doctor) with the potion for Timothy. He has his leg trapped and she feels torn because she needs to get back to her sick son, but can’t leave him injured. So she stops and helps him and in return takes her home and promises that if she ever needs help she just has to ask. It is later on that Jeremy says to Mrs Frisby at one point about why he is helping her, is because they maybe different but they all have the same enemies; 
‘We all help one another against the cat’ 
(always prowling the farmyard) 


This book tries to cover almost everything, from mice inventing x-ray machines, Owls not eating mice (what was that about?) to rats being able to read in a lab. Adventures i.e. the great escape. 

How difficult it is to move a house let alone a home? One book clubber thought of the TV series ‘Location Location Location’ and Kirsty Allsop saying something like ‘Mrs Frisby has a dilemma
of huge mouse proportions. She must either find a new location or fear being crushed to death. Let’s look at her options. Phil it’s over to you’ or something like that.
‘Mrs Frisby could not quite get rid of the nagging worry that kept flickering in her mind; it was the kind of worry that if you push it out of this corner of your thoughts, pops up in that corner, and finally in the middle, where it has to be faced’
For some the book appeared to be old fashioned in some respects such as the female animals not being allowed in any of the meetings and then would look at role models. The males seemed to be the ones with the power even though our hero is a heroine. There is also a part where there was a role reversal I think between Timothy and Mrs Frisby when she starts acting like a child about moving day and not being mature and thinking like a child, thinking that the worse could happen, when the child believes everything will work out.

Although we all loved this book we did feel the ending let us down slightly it gave us an unnessary epilogue which didn’t let us know what happened to the rats, they simply just disappeared.

‘The room they entered was big, square, well lit, and had a faint misty smell. “It’s reasonably comfortable, and if you like to read....” he gestured at the walls. They were lined with shelves 
from floor to ceiling, and on the shelves stood- Mrs Frisby dredged from her memory. “Books”, she said, they’re books” “yes” said Justin do you read much?” “Only a little,” said Mrs Frisby. 
“My husband taught me”. –Mrs Frisby in the library.

There is a sequel to this book called ‘Racso And The Rats Of Nimh' written by the author’s daughter and also a film. However the film has a few differences, it’s called the Secret of Nimh 
made in 1982 and the names of the character has changed due to a possible copyright infringement with a certain toy and the mouse was know as Mrs Brisby. Not quite the same ring don’t you think?

Oh and one last thing, apparently animals can get pneumonia and NIMH is a real organisation, it is a part of the National Institutes of Health which is not revealed in the book. Although someone did mention if you add a letter it could be ‘Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Niamh’ a new title for book club perhaps?

And that my dears is the end of our story, always brush your teeth before you go to bed, and always remember book club is not just about the books you learn much more oh and it’s not just
is for Christmas, book club is for life.

Oh and if anyone is wondering about the state of the book I was reading I think my dog ate it.

SCORE:

8/10

To find other members of the club, search on twitter for #LBCPuffins

And don't hesitate to contact Outlaws on @OutlawYachtClub

Let me know your thoughts by either tweeting me @LeedsBookClub, commenting below or emailing me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com

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LBC Puffins

NOV - Wee Free Men - Terry Prachett - GUEST
OCT - Black Beauty - Anna Sewell GUEST
SEP - The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson-Burnett GUEST
AUG - Coraline - Neil Gaiman GUEST
JUL - Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh - Robert C O'Brien GUEST
JUN - The Sheep Pig - Dick King-Smith GUEST
FEB - Matilda - Roald Dahl GUEST

Book Club - Table of Contents

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