Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Never Tease a Weasel

Never Tease a Weasel
Jean Conder Soule illustrated by Denman Hampson
Published by Parents' Magazine Press in 1964. 

You can knit a kitten mittens
And perhaps that cat would purr.
You could fit a fox with socks
That exactly matched his fur.
You could make a goat a coat
With a collar trimmed in mink;
Or give a pig a wig
In a dainty shade of pink
But never tease a weasel;
This is very good advice.
A weasel will not like it 
And teasing isn't nice!

You could make a riding habit
For a rabbit if you choose;

You could make a collie jolly
With a gay crocheted cravat;
Or make a possum blossom
In an Easter Sunday hat.

But never tease a weasel,
Not even once or twice.
A weasel will not like it
And teasing isn't nice!

A truly delightful book published by the Parent’s Magazine Press in 1964 with illustrations by Denman Hampson. A new edition with illustrations by George Booth was published in 2007. If you prefer the earlier version (as I do) you will need to hunt in your local second-hand book shop or charity shop. Or if you prefer to shop, you could check on eBay or ABEbooks where there are several copies for sale at time of writing.  

Never tease a weasel.
There! Now I've said it thrice.
A weasel will not like it –
And teasing isn't nice!

Don’t you just love that Perky Turkey?   

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Easter Joys Be Yours

Easter Joys be yours a postcard sent in time for Easter 1916. The sweet image and pretty sentiment belie the fact that the newspapers of the time were full of tragic stories about the war and the Easter Rising in Ireland. Easter Monday came later in 1916 falling as it did on April 24th. 

These are some of the headlines in British newspapers in April of that year;

Nightly German Navy airship raids on England.
Munitions factory explosion at Uplees near Faversham, Kent, kills 108 men.
Garrick Theatre Fire, Hereford: 8 young girls appearing in an amateur benefit evening performance for soldiers are killed when their costumes catch fire.
Easter Rising in Ireland:  Members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood proclaim an Irish Republic and the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army occupy the General Post Office and other buildings in Dublin before surrendering to the British Army.
German battle cruisers bombard Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.
Gas attack at Hulluch in France: 47th Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division, decimated in one of the most heavily-concentrated gas attacks of the war.
Source; Wikipedia

Contrast the above with this letter also published in a British newspaper in April, 1916.

Dear Girls and Boys,

When you read this letter, your schools will have broken up for the Easter holidays, and you will be anticipating the pleasures of country walks in the bright spring sunshine, and finding the nests of our feathered friends. I do not think so many Easter eggs will be rolled on Monday as is the case in normal times, for I have heard of quite a number of children who are giving up this pleasure in order to send the eggs to our hospitals for the wounded soldiers.  Still, we can spend quite as jolly a time in the fields on Easter-Monday; and an orange is a fine substitute for an egg as a treat, although I should not recommend it being used as a ball. A ball made of indiarubber is the best fun, and, armed with these two and a little basket for our floral spoils, we can sally forth for our afternoon's enjoyment in almost any direction from Whitby, with the certainty of finding a pretty walk and plenty of flowers.

Source; Whitby Gazette April 20th, 1916

The news in 2016 is hardly better than it was in 1916, dominated as it is this morning with reports of a suspected bomb attack in Brussels.  My wish is that every person on earth could sally forth this Easter with the certainty of enjoying a pretty walk and plenty of flowers.

Image Richard Denman Hampson 

**Easter Joys Be Yours manufactured by M. M. Vienne of Austria an important publisher of artist signed cards covering a whole range of topics and styles. 

Monday, 14 March 2016

Gum Tree Brownies and Other Wondrous Things

A Letter From Julie;

Well, here I am again at long, long last!!!

Despite finally having one excessively heavy downpour of rain, here in the tropics of North Queensland it continues to be drier and hotter than any other season on record!  It has been getting to 38 degrees more often than ever. My beloved Fur Babies have been feeling the horrendous and humid heat, so they tend to spend many lazy hours indoors where it is so pleasant for us all! Even the water from the COLD water taps feels warm! I haven't even needed to turn the hot tap on when having a shower! It’s quite unbelievable and very unusual indeed!  

Gum tree after the rain

My neighbor was here at 7.30 this morning as if he had left it any later to mow the lawn, he would never have been able to manage even a quarter of it!! Even that early, it was already 30 degrees!  I was enthralled, at that hour, watching and listening to the huge black cockatoo's squabbling for all they were worth in the enormous New Guinea Almond tree down towards the corner of the street. These amazing birds just LOVE the fabulous nuts which form on these trees and they are the only birds I have seen around here which can actually crack them open with their tremendously strong beaks! Some of the other, even larger native cockatoos are also strong enough to do so, but they don't venture from their homes in the rainforests!

Gum Tree Brownie and other Faerie Folk of the Never-Never

This situation has meant that I have been able to thoroughly enjoy the artwork in many of my precious old books, as well as finding new delight in acquisitions recently received from overseas!!  One of these is Tarella Quin's first story book, Gum Tree Brownie which was illustrated by the then just 19-year-old Ida Sherbourne Rentoul some years before she met and married Grenbry Outhwaite and took the name we all recognise so well these days!

Gum tree Brownie illustrated by Ida Rentoul.

I have longed for a copy of this very special and lovely book, completely illustrated in black and white, for as long as I can recall. When I won my treasure for a ridiculously low price which made it akin to winning the lottery for me, I truly could NOT believe it. I kept checking it, over and over and OVER again, just to be certain that a mistake hadn't been made! When it arrived back in the country of its creation, packed along with an almost mint volume of the exquisitely decoratively bound Penrose's Annual for 1907-8, I literally trembled with the knowledge of what I would very soon be looking at!!! Oh my goodness, I could have cried with the absolute joy of it! And let me assure you, I was not disappointed with EITHER of these books which I have now added to my library!  These very early Australian Golden Age children's books are like Holy Grails for any collectors and I do know how extremely fortunate I am.

Apart from these, I also have had a fabulous time buying a collection of Margaret Evans Price book treasures from a lady in America!! Well, actually there are five of MEP's plus four other stunning old early American (Volland) books! 

My many (almost 50!) beautiful old annuals which I ordered from UK last Oct/Nov have been keeping me smiling from ear to ear as I enjoy the contents of them;

The Oxford Annual for Tiny Folks and Penrose's Pictorial Annual

The wonderful Oxford Annual for Tiny Folks featuring a chubby little toddler pushing his even chubbier little sister in a green barrow is simply filled with surprise treasures. Just a few pages in I saw a poem titled 'If You Have A Persian Cat' illustrated by the fabulous Lilian A Govey, a contemporary of my favoured Anne Anderson! Every word of this is so true, especially when I think of the brother and sister pair which my dad and step-mum own and adore!! So much so, that I scanned the three pages and sent them with Dad's birthday card which I made for his 86th birthday! I was rewarded with so many giggles and such genuine laughter when I was phoned with their ardent thanks.

The first story I saw when I opened the Joy Book Annual for 1928 (with a gorgeous child dressed up as a Jester on the cover) happened to be by that favourite author of mine, Agnes Grozier Herbertson!! It is called 'Wee Wobbledy'. He is a gnome who lived on the One Tree Common, and everything in his little house had to be tied securely, or hung on hooks as the BIG WIND always caused everything inside to go Wobbledy-Wobbledy'!!! In her gorgeous inimitable style, A.H tells the story of how the house one day, while its owner was out, was picked up by the BIG WIND and taken quite far away. The Wibbledy-Wobbledy has a grand adventure trying to find where his beloved little home has been set down and with help from The Wise Witch, and then the Wise Wizard, as well as a Shepherd who has a star in his bell, he does indeed find where his house is, by the side of The Peaberry Tree where lots of lovely and kind fairy folk were staring at it and wondering who it belonged to! After he finds the house, meets the 'neighbours', and invites them all in for tea, he decides that he likes this sheltered place and the folk who live there so much that he stays there rather than return to One Tree Common.  All in all, another delicious little story by A.G.H.

The Joy Book Children's Annual with the story of Wee Wobbledy and The Spindle Tree 

I also managed to have so much time that I enjoyed reading her stand-alone story book titled 'The Spindle Tree’, which I believe was written back in the mid 1920s and illustrated by Stanley Cook. At 190 pages, it is divided into 12 chapters. It is all about a gnome named Yumps, his Real Speckly Sparrow, his Genuine Silver Fin (fish) and his RARE and REAL Spindle Tree which is home to the Spindle Fairy. The tale is filled with memorable characters from the very first page, and I do wish I had a small person to whom I could read a chapter each night at bedtime as it is just exactly THAT type of a story, though still in A.G.H's gorgeous style so suited to very young children!! Many of her larger books which I have now collected are groups of individual short stories, as in The Adventures of Bee Wee the Gnome to which I introduced you late last year,(again, as with my recent buy of Gum Tree Brownie, after waiting so long to find a copy I could afford!!!) Her Stand alone stories, such as Teddy and Trots in Wonderland and Lucy-Mary, or The Cobweb Cloak, to me seem far better suited to older children than the delightful Spindle Tree!

Kookaburra in my flowering gum tree

Oh heavens, I could just go one and on, and then on some more about all the magical moments I have been so lucky to enjoy over this hideously hot summer!!! I do not honestly know many people who are as fortunate to have such treasures at their fingertips whether indoor, or outside in the garden. Over summer, we have been visited by beautiful and very cheerful Laughing Kookaburras! I do enjoy these marvellous Aussie Icons so much as they sit in the trees and make their amazing sounds which truly do sound just like laughter! It is little wonder that they feature in so many Australian stories. My gum tree is back in bloom again so all sorts of feathered friends come to visit in the cooler daylight hours....simply wonderful!

Ladybirds and little water dragons (gorgeous little lizard friends) have been in the grass a lot lately as well, I think because they enjoy drinking the heavy morning dews!! Between the gum blossoms and the garden critters, I see so much of nature's inspiration which Tarella Quin found, from which she could tell her delightful early fairy tales of this country I call home! I am still tempted to pinch myself to prove that I do in fact have my treasure in 'Gum Tree Brownie’. I was showing it to an elderly friend who popped in earlier, so I do know it is indeed real!!! Some book treasures, as you are so well aware, are akin to dreams in their beauty, aren't they?!  (Indeed they are Julie!)

Water dragon which is about 5 inches long TOTAL!

Life is not just good, but genuinely GREAT! I’d need ever so much time to share with you all the treasures and pleasure I garner from them!! But I can continue to do so in bits and bobs! I nearly wrote 'in Dribs and Drabs' but they surely are not, any of them, Drab!!!!

The sunset is taken looking through the trees from my yard.

Until next time, my love and miles of smiles, Jules xoxox
February, 2016.

Postscript 14th March, 2016.

Well, Goodness gracious....We here in tropical North Queensland are now praying that the rains keep up....just so that they won't come down!!!!! Since I wrote the post and Feb came to an end, we have been continually inundated with the unusual wet stuff known as RAIN!! and I really DO mean inundated!! One night we had over 100mm, and almost every day or night this month we have received more extremely worthwhile falls!!

Day Orchids

The entire region around the city is gloriously green for the first time in well over a year, and with so much of the wet treasure, it may remain this gorgeous colour for more than a month!! The dust has settled at last too, so the Fur Babies are much more comfortable and it is far easier to keep the housework up to scratch! Like the rest of the population, I am certainly not complaining about any downsides the rain has, such as huge paw prints all over the tiled floors (they clean off so easily!!), as NOTHING makes my beloved plants grow as well as real rain!! I knew that we were in for some more of the deliciously refreshing stuff on Saturday, as my 24-hour little Rain Orchids came into full fragrant bloom again on Friday morning!!! They NEVER tell lies! It's almost as if they have little Fairies living within the buds waiting to just burst forth with the good news!! I could smell their perfume from my kitchen window long before I ventured outside for a closer appreciation! What a huge pity though, that these teensie, yet pristine blooms do only last for a single Day!

While the cheerful sounds, of all the children having a splashing good time out in the street as the rain gently falls on them, echoes delightfully in my head, I have been enjoying being able to curl up and enjoy some of my favourite of books with their magical illustrations and stories! I feel like the happy young child I was all those years ago, growing up in Melbourne where it always seemed to be raining, and I was always being transported off to have adventures in some new Storybook Land!!! My life is certainly blessed, even all these years later, in a city as far from and as different to, that memory-filled place of my childhood. I do pray that all of you who read this little post, also are able to return to you own magical memories with as much ease as I seem able to do.  Enjoy every moment, and fill them with smiles!!

All photographs courtesy of Julie Drew.

Read Julie's previous post here

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Best of British Homemaking 1966

The recent television series ‘Back in Time for the Weekend’ sent me scurrying to find my stash of old magazines. For those of you who’ve not seen the programme it features a British family living in six different decades starting from the 1950s and ending in the present day. 

Having lived through all the decades showcased in the programme, I'm having difficulty deciding which I preferred. I was a small child in the 1950s a teenager in the swinging sixties and married with a child in the seventies. Any or all of those years could be classed as my favourite but the 60s were certainly the most colourful as demonstrated in this Best of British homemaking magazine from March 1966.

The Best of British Homemaking March 26th, 1966.

Unbeatable quality, unbeatable choice – here’s Good Living Unlimited for your home!

Any moment now ... they'll be talking about furniture.  Really?

That special blend of cosiness, comfort and quality that makes the British Home the castle it is!

The world's widest and finest choice of furniture - that's our lucky lot! Here is an eyeview of some of the good buys around.  

Every room in the house bursting with our new colour skill. Coolly modern, richly traditional, warmly cottagey - whatever the type of furnishing style it's the colour that makes a room remembered.   

I wonder how many of you remember Ladderax (as shown above - and in the photograph below). It was all the rage when we got married and looking on eBay, I see it’s making a comeback. It even has its own Facebook and Wikipedia pages! We got rid of our ‘modular storage’ years ago believing it to be old fashioned, but perhaps we should have kept it.

I always liked the checked wallpaper in the sitting room (above) it made a perfect backdrop for the Ladderax. The photo was taken not long after Terry and I got married. If you look closely you can see our pet budgerigar on Terry’s shoulder. We named the budgie Tarzan thinking he was a boy but when he later turned out to be a she we renamed her Jane!

Tarzan (or Jane) pales into insignificance against the dining room wallpaper. 

Back in Time for the Weekend Episode 2.The 60s BBC Documentary 2016;

Have you seen Back in Time for the Weekend or do you have a favourite decade?

Update 17th March, 2016.  If you read the comments at the end of this post, you might have seen the one from Anne Marie at Campfire. If not this is part of it; 

I noticed the Parkray in the photo - we had one of those, set in a natural stone fireplace, a long one with a TV pod on one side.  Above the Parkray we had hand done split wooden laths, in a weatherboarding effect (my mother in law asked what colour we were going to paint them!). There was a sage green feature wall and a Habitat white round centre stemmed table with chrome pod, and matching chairs. The sideboard was a beautiful teak one long and low and surprisingly went with the table. The sofa was pre-formed in black 'leatherette' very new and made especially - and it was so blinking uncomfortable. The curtains were orange and sage green checked wool tweed, in quite a large check, all very nice I thought.

Anne Marie followed up by sending an email and a photograph (taken from a slide) for me to share with you. She remembers the chairs being very uncomfortable, made of a basic polythene shell covered with artificial leather. She also mentioned the walking sticks on the wall, and the black moulded plastic coffee table in the foreground. She ends by saying, “we were so 'designer' then. None of our friends were so daring.”

Thanks Anne Marie, loving the chairs and would you believe we had curtains just like that! Barbara x  

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Guest Post: Allyn Stotz Cookies for Punch

Allyn M. Stotz is a children’s book writer who has just released her fifth picture book, Cookies for Punch, published by Guardian Angel Publishing.

This might be her fifth book, but it’s actually the first story she ever sent in for publication which was way back in 2009. Why so long you ask? Well that’s a long, not so interesting story. (She wipes her sweaty brow, and hyperventilates as she becomes exhausted thinking about the difficult journey she’s been on to get it published).

That’s why when people come up to her and say, “I've always wanted to write a children’s book. Is it difficult?” she has no clear and easy answer.

Every author has a different journey and every manuscript travels on different adventures to get published. Her first picture book, The Pea in Peanut Butter began with a title. She knew she wanted to write a story about peanut butter but wasn't sure what she wanted to happen in the story. So she thought of a catchy title and wrote the story from there. And I can tell you this for certain … that title stirs up a lot of attention!

Allyn isn't the typical writer who dreamed of becoming a published author all her life. In fact, she never even thought about it until she turned 52 yrs. old. (Lesson learned … it’s never too late!) One day, her brother (who is not a writer but certainly has the talent for it if he wanted it) posted on his blog a story about a computer game he was hooked on. His writing was fascinating with such vivid details of the fantasy world in the game that it made her think to herself how much fun it would be to write a fantasy story. She immediately thought of a game she and her siblings used to play as children. She sat down at her computer, began typing the story and her fingers have not stopped writing since!

That’s when she realized she had never enjoyed herself so much as when she typed up the first few chapters of that story. She quickly went online and researched how to write a story for publication. At that time, she decided she wanted to go for the gusto but still didn't know what type of book she really wanted to write or what genre. After finding a class online, she signed up and discovered it was small children she wanted to write for. She has always loved the little kiddos, but never was blessed to have any of her own. She thought writing books might be a way to reconnect with them.

And she was 100% correct! So to answer the question of “how do I get started being an author” my first answer would be to discover what kind of book it is you want to write, first. Then research, research, research. There are all kinds of rules to follow when writing a book and different sets of guidelines for each publisher.

Allyn believes that becoming a published author is one of her greatest accomplishments. Although it’s very difficult and really tests your patience, it’s very rewarding at the same time. Seeing people’s faces light up when they realize you wrote a book is truly amazing. But even more than that, Allyn feels tremendously rewarded by the fact that after she became published, her 83 yr. old mother (another example of it’s never too late!) and one of her sister’s decided it was time for them to fulfill their lifetime dreams of writing a novel.  They have teamed up together and published three mystery/romance novels and just released their fourth book, Holiday Connections, which is a collection of short stories.

If you’d like to find out more about Allyn’s books, visit her at www.allynstotz.blogspot.com. All of her books are available online and at Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, LA.

Thank you so much for agreeing to write for my blog Allyn. It was fun finding out more about you and your delightful stories. Barbara  

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