I’m sitting here typing with a fidgety cat by my shoulder, which is very distracting to say the least.
I’ve just finished reading Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, its a wonderfully imaginative children’s book so may not be on every ones radar, although it was made into a film which starring Brendan Fraser. I haven’t seen the film, but as it has the fantastic Paul Bettany playing Dustfingerwho is my favourite character in the book, plus Helen Mirren and Andy Serkis playing the evil villian Capricorn, it is now on my ‘to watch’ list. The central conceit of Inkheart is that when he reads a book aloud Meggie’s father, Mo, can conjour characters from the book into our world which is how Dustfinger, Capricorn and various of Capricorn’s associates all got here. I would have absolutely adored this book when I was a child.
I’ve also read a couple of books by Neil Gaiman, who writes the most wonderful contemporary fairy stories, Neverwhere probably being my favourite – travel on the tube will never be the same after reading this. The Graveyard Book, his most recent release reworks The Jungle Book into a darkly beautiful, fairy story. While Coraline has just been made into a deliciously scary film – one day Coraline finds a strange door which leads to an alternative version of her home with Other Mother and Other Father which initially looks more fun.
I loved these books as an adult and would have absolutely adored these books as a child as they sit alongside Antonia Barber’s The Ghosts (aka The Amazing Mr Blunden) Penelope Farmer’s Charlotte Sometimes and Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden, three of my favourite childhood books.
I don’t remember being a particularly unhappy child, but these three books all share the central conceit of an escape to another world which does make me wonder – OK I’m not sure I’d want to be living in a girls boarding school during WWI. I also have a vivid memory of me aged around seven wobbling on my mother’s precious sideboard and staring intently into the big sitting room mirror, trying to recreate the opening of Alice Through the Looking Glass – only a seven year old would want to meet some of those characters, its been a while since I read the Alice books but I am sure that the Red Queen is in the second book as well – so let’s chalk this up to childhood imagination and a desire to learn about places other than the small cathedral city in Southern England I grew up in. A desire I still have as an adult, especially after a very bad day at work.