Sunday, 25 June 2017

Vintage Books from my Bookshelf - The Wasp in a Wig

I didn’t read a lot while I was on my blogging break, but I did take a look at this rather strange “suppressed” episode from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.
The Wasp in a Wig Lewis Carroll Alice Through the looking glass

Back in 1898 Stuart Dodgson Collingwood, a nephew of Lewis Carroll published a biography of his uncle in which he wrote;  
“The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll by Stuart Dodgson Collingwood from The Wasp in a Wig, Martin Gardner and Macmillan 1977.”

A facsimile of the letter also appeared in the biography.; 

“My Dear Dodgson 

Don’t think me brutal, but I am bound to say that the ‘wasp’ chapter does not interest me in the least, and I can’t see my way to a picture. If you want to shorten the book, I can’t help thinking – with all submission – that this is your opportunity.  
In an agony of haste, 

Yours sincerely, J. Tenniel
Portsdown Road,June 1, 1870”

Then in 1974 Sotheby's listed the following item in their auction catalogue of July 3rd;

 “Auction catalogue entry: The Wasp in a Wig; Martin Gardner and Macmillan 1977.”
This was an important discovery. Carroll left no record of his own opinion of the episode, but he did preserve the proofs and after his death in 1898, they were bought by an unknown person. Then in 1974 they were put up for auction at Sotheby's and purchased by John Fleming, a Manhattan rare book dealer, for Norman Armour, Jr., also of New York City. Eventually, the excised passage came into the hands of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, who prepared a private edition of the book for their members. The copy I have was published by Macmillan, London in 1977. 

The excised passage is quite short, but the book still manages to run to forty pages most of which are taken up with notes, a preface and an introduction by Martin Gardner.
The episode itself is all rather odd. In it, Alice meets an elderly and very crotchety wasp who is none too pleased to speak to her. “Worrity, Worrity! There never was such a child!” he declares and feeling rather offended Alice very nearly walks away but being a kind child she stays and gradually the wasp tells her his story. "You'd be cross too, if you'd a wig like mine," the Wasp tells her "When I was young, you know, my ringlets used to wave ---" As the wasp talked a curious idea came into Alice's head. Almost everyone she met had repeated poetry to her, and she thought she would try if the Wasp couldn't do it too. "It aint wat I'm used to," said the Wasp : "however I'll try; wait a bit."

“When I was young, my ringlets waved
And curled and crinkled on my head:
And then they said ‘You should be shaved,
And wear a yellow wig instead.’

But when I followed their advice,
And they had noticed the effect,
They said I did not look so nice
As they had ventured to expect.

They said it did not fit, and so
It made me look extremely plain:
But what was I to do, you know?
My ringlets would not grow again.

So now that I am old and grey,
And all my hair is nearly gone,
They take my wig from me and say
‘How can you put such rubbish on?’

And still, whenever I appear,
They hoot at me and call me ‘Pig!’
And that is why they do it, dear,
Because I wear a yellow wig.”

As I said previously, all rather odd but then much of Lewis Carroll’s writing is. If you would like to read the episode in its entirety, please visit: The lost chapter at

There is some controversy surrounding this ‘missing’ episode with questions raised about its authenticity. I have no idea if it’s genuine or not, but if you would like to read more, please visit Contrariwise; The Blog  

Have you read The Wasp in a Wig or any other books by Lewis Carroll?

Lewis Carroll's The Wasp in a Wig. A "Suppressed" Episode of Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Preface, Introduction and Notes by Martin Gardner. Published in Great Britain in 1977 by Macmillan London Limited.
Sotheby's auction catalogue for a sale on the 3rd July, 1974.
The Curious Case of the Wasp in the Wig.” Contrariwise: the Blog. Contrariwise: the Association for new Lewis Carroll Studies, 16 Jun 2010.  Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
de Rooy, Lenny. “The Lost Chapter.” Lenny’s Alice in Wonderland Site. N.p., 20 Nov 2010.
Gardner, Martin. The Annotated Alice. Definitive. New York: W. W. Norton, 2000.  


These two little girls probably thought they were in Wonderland the other evening;

This is Lilly our five-year-old granddaughter watching Frozen On Ice at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre

and this is her big sister Zoe 

This (in case you don’t know) is Marshmallow an enchanted snowman, and personal bodyguard of Elsa the Snow Queen.

Elsa and Anna

Kristoff and Sven the reindeer


Face painting and photographs by Karen (our lovely daughter in law and mum to the girls). We are planning a trip to Australia in 2018 and can't wait to see everyone. The photos from their last visit to England are here and here

Monday, 19 June 2017

Perfecto Pet Show by Pepper Springfield

Today, I’m very excited to feature Pepper Springfield (aka Judy Newman, President of the Scholastic Reading Club) as she talks about her life and her journey to becoming a published author. Please enjoy. 

I always wanted to write books. It just took me many decades to get up enough courage and self-confidence to actually sit down and do it. 

Successful published authors often attribute their success to reading and I agree. 

All kinds of reading—aloud, alone, together—were firmly baked into my childhood. I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and so we read local picture book favorites such as Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal virtually every night before bed.

Clearly, here I was not too thrilled with sharing reading time with that small bundle (aka my sister-and-now-friend-ally-and-confidant, Emily) in my mom’s arms!

However, I was thrilled when years later I got to meet Robert McCloskey at his home in Maine and record an audio interview with him about his writing life for our school book clubs. I asked him about the inspiration for Make Way for Ducklings. He, along with so many other authors, truly inspires me.

I did write one “novel” in fifth grade: Danny Sompedia Around Town, in which Danny and his dog are left to fend for themselves after a car accident kills the adult Sompedias. I have judged many student writing contests over the years and I now know that killing off the parents in a fatal car accident is a very common device in budding writers’ work.

I was a competitive reader and I liked to be the kid who read the most books during our Newton Free Library summer reading challenge. I rode my blue banana bike to the library every day, took out as many books as I could fit in my bike bag, and meticulously wrote down every title I read. Somewhere in my parents’ house, I still have those handwritten records.

This isn’t a photo of me, but it easily could’ve been. (From the collection of the Newton Free Library in Massachusetts)

Each year, when we moved up a grade in elementary school, my parents would take we three kids to Louis Strymish’s New England Mobile Book Fair. As a reward for graduating, we would get to pore over the stacks of books (many piled on pallets since Strymish was a book “jobber”) and get to choose titles we wanted for summer reading.

Running through these aisles was almost like a treasure hunt—it could take hours but I would always find that perfect book (Courtesy of Boston University)

I continued that tradition with my own children and, as you can see, their noses were buried in books all summer long.

John and Becca, my two children, reading wherever they found a space!

I divide the world into book people and non-book people. And it is book people—readers, publishers, bloggers (like March of Time Books…), and authors—that I have always been drawn to. I was practically born a reader. My chosen career is book publishing. I read blogs and recently started writing one ( and, at last, I am thrilled to be a published author, too!

It was quite a stressful journey.

Usually on weekends, I would go to my desk to write and I would get so anxious, I would fall asleep. But l learned to give in to that, take a little nap, and just keep going. And so, page by page, my manuscript came together. I was determined to write a chapter book in rhyme because I am passionate about trying to find high interest, funny books for kids who don’t feel confident about reading.

I stare at these bookshelves, which are in my office at home, trying to get some inspiration for my own books. 

I cannot draw at all, so once I had a reasonably coherent manuscript, I needed to find an illustrator to collaborate with. I went on the SCBWI website and found Kristy Caldwell. I didn’t know Kristy before, but now we are working on our third Bobs and Tweets book and I cannot imagine a creative life without her.

Clearly this childhood photo of Kristy shows her unique blend of thoughtful intelligence, creative fun, and dislike of napkins!
Kristy’s interpretation of the two wacky families who star in my book series, the messy Bobs and the neat Tweets—along with the main protagonists, Dean Bob and Lou Tweet (who are NOT like the rest of their families!)—was so close to how I imagined them. Together, we are bringing these characters to life. And with each book, the world of Bonefish Street (where these characters live) gets richer and richer. I am hoping for an animated series some day!

Even though I have worked in children’s book publishing for more than two decades, I am still learning so much about what it takes to be an author—and get readers to discover my book. I use the pseudonym, Pepper Springfield, because until very recently, I was terrified of being exposed as a fraud.

I worried that if my Bobs and Tweets books got bad reviews or didn’t sell, my whole professional credibility would be challenged (I am supposed to be an expert in children’s books!). But I am gradually getting over that. I did an interview with Publishers Weekly explaining that there are lots of good reasons to use a pseudonym, but fear is not one of them.

Now I am determined to not let fear stand in my way. I am writing about my experience (as I am here), just signed up to do my first bookstore signing (gulp!), and am not above “photo bombing” and putting my Bobs and Tweets titles right up there on top shelves!

My Bobs and Tweets nestled in with some great classics!
It is such hard work, but a true privilege to be able to share my ideas and my characters with readers. After all these years of working in children’s book publishing, it is inspiring and humbling to see the world from an author’s point of view.

Last spring, debut author and illustrator team Pepper Springfield and Kristy Caldwell introduced readers to two distinctive families, the Bobs and the Tweets, in a new series BOBS AND TWEETS. In its enthusiastic review of the first book, Meet the Bobs and Tweets, Booklist said, “Antics abound, and kids will be eager for more in future adventures.” Now, just in time for summer reading, theescapades continue in BOBS AND TWEETS: Perfecto Pet Show (Scholastic; June 27, 2017; 9780545870733).

When last seen, the Bobs and Tweets had moved across from each other on Bonefish Street at the recommendation of Mo, a wacky and wise community leader with a sense of humor. The problem: The Tweets are super neat and the Bobs are just plain slobs, and there just may not be enough room for the two families on the same street. But not all Bobs and Tweets are exactly the same! The two youngest members of these outrageous families—Lou Tweet and Dean Bob—have personalities all their own. When Lou and Dean meet at the town pool they become fast friends.

In Perfecto Pet Show, everyone is super-excited because Lou and Dean’s teacher, Ms. Pat, is hosting an afternoon of entertainment featuring kids and their pets. Anything goes she says, as long as each act runs for just three minutes. Lou decides on a rock-n-roll number with her cat, Pretty Kitty, and Dean plans to play the banjo with his pitbull, Chopper. When a giant bikecollision and a case of stage-fright threaten to ruin the fun, the Bobs and the Tweets have to depend on each other and the differences they once thought were intolerable. Will both families put aside their stubborn ways and save the day?

Written in rhyming verse that is perfect for reading aloud, and clever four-color illustrations throughout, BOBS AND TWEETS is an excellent series for emerging readers. The friendship between Lou Tweet and Dean Bob is a wonderful example of how opposites acting together are stronger than they are apart. More adventures will be here soon!

About the Author

Pepper Springfield (aka Judy Newman to close friends and family), was born and raised inMassachusetts. She loves rock ‘n’ roll and chocolate, just like Lou Tweet. And, like Dean Bob, she loves to read and do crossword puzzles. Over the years, Pepper has loved all kinds of pets: dogs, cats, hamsters, turtles, fish, a bunny, and an imaginary monkey. Judy hates the spotlight, but Pepper is getting used to it! If Pepper had to choose, she would be a Tweet by day and a Bob at night.

About the Illustrator

Kristy Caldwell received an MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts. She is a full-time illustrator and a part-time Tweet. While working at her art studio in Brooklyn, NY, Kristy gets her creativity on like Lou Tweet, drinks tea like Dean Bob, and hangs out with her energetic dog friend Dutch.

Book #2: Perfecto Pet Show
By Pepper Springfield
Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: June 27th, 2017
ISBN: 9780545870733
Format: Hardcover and e-book
Price(s): $9.99 / $5.99
Page Count: 80
 # # #
What Do Teachers and Kids Say About the Bobs and Tweets?
 “My students absolutely LOVED this book!” – Jessie, Grade School Teacher
 “I want to read more Bobs and Tweets stories, [they are] good for kids who like Dr. Seuss. It makes reading fun!” – Sophia, 3rd Grade

Monday, 12 June 2017

Pink and Blue Clouds and a Castle in Kent

Hello all, I’m back!

I wish I could tell you I went running everyday, cooked beautiful meals and completely redesigned the garden, but it would be untrue, so I had best come clean and admit to being utterly lazy. I didn’t even do much reading, although I did smell lots of flowers. In the midst of all this idleness, Terry and I enjoyed a few nights away staying at Horsham in West Sussex. From there we enjoyed trips to Hever Castle in Kent, a fascinating visit to The Houses of Parliament in London and to Nymans a National Trust property near Haywards Heath. We also spent a few hours in Guildford, a favourite shopping destination of mine. While there, we came across a little corner of Wonderland but unlike Alice, we went up rather than down!  Up to the 5th floor of a department store to be precise where we alighted onto a pink and blue cloud! 

Picture from The Tea Terrace Website
Picture from The Tea Terrace Website; follow this link to find out more. 

I took masses of photographs while we were away, including some of the tearooms which I will share in a later post. Processing them, however, is taking much longer than usual as I attempt to get to grips with Lightroom image-editing software. I’ve used an old version of PhotoImpact for the last eleven years, meaning I’m on something of a steep learning curve. As if that were not enough I’m also attempting to master the settings on my camera. I use a Canon G11 compact set on ‘auto’ but I really must learn to use manual mode and figure out how to adjust exposures, etc.,  If nothing else it should help ward off the dreaded dementia. I don’t say that lightly having watched my dear dad struggle with it for several years prior to his death.

The pictures that follow were all taken at Hever Castle, I hope you enjoy them. 

Terry took the above photograph with my camera and I processed it with my old photo-editing software.

Taken at Hever Castle, Kent
This is the same photographer processed in Lightroom. I think it looks much better, but I’m a complete novice with the software so I know it's far from perfect.  

My poor husband tasked with trying to teach me how to take and process better photographs.

Hever Castle, famous for being the childhood home of Anne Boleyn is situated in the beautiful Kent countryside about 30 miles south-east of London. Sir Thomas Bullen, later known as Boleyn, inherited Hever from his father Sir William Bullen in 1505 and made it into a family home for his wife, Elizabeth Howard, and three children – Mary, Anne and George. Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII, executed in 1536 after being Queen for just 1,000 days. It was Henry’s love for Anne, and her insistence that she became his wife rather than remain his mistress that led to the King renouncing Catholicism and creating the Church of England.

Hever Castle, Kent

If you would like to learn more about the history of Hever Castle or Anne Boleyn, there is a mass of information available on the Internet. Alternatively, you could treat yourself to Hever Castle & Gardens produced by Jigsaw Publishing in 2017. I bought my copy at the castle, but I’m sure you would have no difficulty finding it online.

The moat around Hever Castle and the Tudor dwelling within the walls.
Can you make out the Tudor dwelling inside the castle walls?

One of two beautifully illuminated prayer books on Display at the castle both belonged to Anne Boleyn. “Remember me when you do pray that hope doth lead from day to day." Anne Boleyn. 
Book of Hours, c 1528.

These personal prayer books were popular in England from the 13th century until the Reformation. They became known as ‘Books of Hours’ from the short services to the Virgin Mary which were read at fixed hours during the day.  

The gardens at Hever Castle

A beautiful pink Peony, just one of the many fragrant flowers at Hever Castle

Best buddies but only while my ice cream lasted!

Thanks so much for coming over I hope to catch up with you all in the next week or so. 

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