Tag Archives: children’s

Re-reading Childhood Favourites

discussion

This post will be linked to the Discussion Challenge, hosted by very lovely people. Try to go over there and click through the other posts – I always find very interesting debates to participate in! :)

Today, I want to talk to you about your childhood favourites. What was your favourite book growing up? How many times did you read it as a child? And have you re-read it in recent years, as an adult reader?

My favourites, for example, include:

  • Matilda and The Witches by Roald Dahl (I even wrote an Author Addiction post about him)
  • The Brothers Lionheart and Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren
  • The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Momo by Michael Ende
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

And there were many more, of course. I think I read the entire children’s section of our local library by the time I was 14 and then wandered over to the adult section where I found The Lord of the Rings and that was the beginning of my fantasy reading, but that’s a different story.

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I re-read some of these already (Matilda, The Witches, The Brothers Lionheart, The Hobbit, The Secret Garden) and they were marvellous. I loved how they made me return to my childhood years but I also discovered new aspects that I simply missed as a kid. This is one of the wonders of children’s literature – the dual addressee “issue”, where the books are meant to be read both by children and adults (who often read these books out loud to their children).

But there are definitely some books that I’m afraid to read for fear of being disappointed with them now that I’m an adult reader. Most notably, I’ve had The Little White Horse on my shelf for three years or so and I still haven’t made myself read it. I’m not sure why; I think I’ll like it but I just have this perfect memory of the story and the characters that I don’t want to spoil.

Honestly, this disappointment happens much more often with movies (like Hot Shots or Men in Tights, both of which were horrible now that I watched them again). I also know that some books I read – like The Famous Five or the Sadler’s Wells series (this one was probably one of my very first binge reads! Ahh, the memories) – were actually pretty bad. I don’t want to re-read them because I know I’ll be rolling my eyes the entire time and I just have such good memories of reading them at night with my flashlight because my mom thought they weren’t “good” books and couldn’t understand why I kept reading them. She never banned me from any books, mind you, she’d never do that, but I just didn’t want to explain myself, so I read in secret. I think this little rebellion was a part of the charm, actually, the fact that I was doing something my parents weren’t happy with (see, I was a rebel even at a young, tender age). :)

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I know I’ll be re-reading some of my favourite books with my kids. I’m really looking forward to that! We’ve already established a good reading routine with Kiddo, we read to him every single night before bed, but we’re at picture books at this point, of course. I can’t wait for him (them) to progress to longer stories that will keep us all up at night.

And I’ll probably read them books that I’m “afraid” to re-read now – and we’ll see if they love them as much as I did when I was a kid (though I’ll be leaving out some of the more horrible ones). Some of them have become classics now, even in Slovenian, like Dahl’s books. And we’ll discover new favourites from among newer literature, too. And they’ll hopefully discover some horrible books on their own and read them even though I’ll be giving them the evil eye all along. At least I hope they grow up to be readers…

srcek

Have you re-read any of your childhood favourites lately? 

Or are you content with the memories and prefer discovering new books?

If you have kids, do you read to them/with them?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Published in 2002 by Scholastic Inc..

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: MG paranormal (?) fantasy.

My rating:

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous. But there’s another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

zmaj-desno

I really like Neil Gaiman. I mean, I haven’t had much luck with his adult novels yet but Stardust was a beautiful fairytale and I still think The Graveyard Book is one of the best middle grade books I’ve read.

Coraline is another one of his successes but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to young readers. Why, you ask? Well, I know it was written and published and marketed as an MG book but honestly, it creeped me out and I can definitely imagine having nightmares if I’d read it as a child. I didn’t often read scary stuff when I was younger (I was a big chicken even then) but I remember reading Dracula when I was about 14, for example, and it scared the sh*t out of me. The fact that the story is accompanied by black-and-white illustrations by Dave McKean isn’t comforting at all, as they are creepy as hell. Buttons for eyes? *shudder* So … I’d say Coraline is a great book for youngsters who are already used to scary stuff and even crave it but I’d be careful if the kid was a bit of a scaredy cat.

The fact is that Coraline deals with some serious issues. The image of a girl whose parents are less than enthusiastic about her is provocative in its own right, but the big question is: would she switch her parents for more loving ones, given the chance? I found Gaiman’s execution of this problem to be really good, he managed to bring all the tension into it but also gave us a powerful resolution in the end.

I loved the setting, the big old house with wonky neighbors and the strange feeling of isolation. But maybe it’s a bit much for kids? I don’t even know, it’s so surreal and dreamlike at times that I could hardly keep up with all the doors and hallways and all. Am I judging it too harshly? Am I being patronizing towards kids? Ugh.

See, I can’t even make up my own mind on this one. I think Coraline is a fantastic read but if the target audience is supposed to be the same age as the heroine, it’s too complex (the setting and the execution, not the theme – the theme is perfect). I’d expect this kind of complexity from a YA novel but then the theme is perhaps less relevant for such an age group. *sigh*

zmaj-levo

Have you read Coraline? What did you think?

Do you always trust publishers and authors when it comes to determining the target audience of a novel?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Author Addiction: Roald Dahl

author addiction

It’s the first Monday of the month and we’re back with Author Addiction! This is a monthly feature here on Of Dragons and Hearts and on A Fool’s Ingenuity, Becky’s wonderful blog. You can also check out my previous editions with Rainbow RowellJill ShalvisJane Austen, Robin Hobb, Tessa DareSarah MacLeanLaini TaylorVictoria (V. E.) Schwab, Sarah J. Maas, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

This will be the last Author Addiction post for a while. No, don’t cry, Becky and I are just out of common authors to write about so we each picked a freebie for this month. But we decided to collaborate on another monthly feature in 2016 – we’re currently discussing details (it’s all very hush-hush … by which I mean that we haven’t thought of a name yet). Anyway, stay tuned for something new and fresh in January and enjoy our last fangirly moments.

It’s ROALD DAHL’s turn for me – my favourite author of children’s books. I know Becky is writing about Neil Gaiman, so go check out her post (I liked Stardust and The Graveyard Book but haven’t read any of his adult stuff so I can’t do an AA post about him, sadly).

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matilda-roald-dahlI usually start these Author Addictions by saying how I encountered the chosen author. With Roald Dahl (1916-1990), I simply have no idea. I think it must have been my mom picking up Matilda or James and the Giant Peach at the library. And then she read them aloud to my brother and me, it was our nighttime ritual for years. Anyway, these were all translations, of course, and we slowly worked our way through The WitchesThe BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was a bit older when we read Revolting Rhymes, which is a collection of fairy tale retellings (poems, really) and it’s great.

My all-time favourite is still The Witches. It’s absolutely horrifying and if you have a young kid at home you might wait until s/he’s about 10 to read this. I don’t know. But I did love it as a kid and I loved it later when I re-read it. And it features a great relationship between a boy and his grandmother, who’s an amazing old lady. In fact, Dahl’s books have no shortage of great female characters – both young and old. Matilda and Sophie (from The BFG) are great girl characters with actual agency!

skin-roald-dahlI am currently slowly working my way through the originals of Dahl’s works – being a translator means I’m always curious about how the translations compare to the originals. I finished The BFG a couple of days ago and I have to say I don’t envy the translator who did this one. I’ll have to check out a copy of the translation and look at it now, but I remember enjoying it very much as a kid. It’s full of made-up words, wrong uses of set expressions and horrible puns – it must be a total pain in the ass to translate even though it’s really quite a short text.

Later on, when I was at the university, I also picked up Dahl’s short stories for adults. Now if you know how trippy, revolting, and fantastic his children’s books get, you multiply that by a hundred and add some murder and dark humor, you get these wonderful tales. I read Skin first, but Kiss, KIss is also great. I think I managed to read most of his short stories, in fact, I was quite obsessed with them for a while. I wish I could write like that.

srcek

Ahh, so what makes Roald Dahl’s writing so wonderful? I think it’s a combination of a wicked sense of humor, total disregard for authority figures, and a good dose of craziness. I think you have to be sort of nuts to write stuff like that – but in a good way, you know? :) I know I’ll be reading his books to my kids – when they’re old enough.

I don’t usually talk about the writers’ lives outside of their writing but here’s a fun fact about Dahl: he was a pilot in the British Royal Air Force in World War II.

If you’re not into reading children’s books (though his really aren’t your usual kind-hearted fairy stories), I highly recommend you pick up his short stories for adults because they are amazing.

Don’t forget to check out Becky’s post! :)

srcek

Have you read any of Roald Dahl’s books? Or watched the movies, perhaps?

Who’s your favourite childhood author? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5) by J. K. Rowling
Published 2003 by Bloomsbury.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased.

Genre: children's/YA fantasy.

My rating:

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…

zmaj-desno

I’m continuing my re-read of the Harry Potter books (you can see the previous reviews here: StoneChamberPrisonerGoblet) with my least favourite of the series, The Order of the Phoenix. I skipped this part on my previous re-reads so this is the first time in years that I’ve read it. And I’m glad I did! Mostly because I forgot half of what happened – I did remember the important parts, of course, but some of the details were starting to get a bit hazy.

Look, I know, fans really love Order because of the way it’s emotional and powerful and stuff happens and Umbridge is the type of a teacher that many unfortunate pupils have had the displeasure to meet in real life. And I get that. And I did give the book a solid rating.

It’s just that it takes SO LONG for things to get moving, I bet there are 200 pages before we even get to Hogwarts and Harry is so tense and grumpy for that entire long beginning and honestly, he’s being a bit of a brat (I knooow, he’s a teenager but still). And then there’s Dumbledore, keeping Harry in the dark for god knows what reason, effectively fucking up everything good that’s happened to Harry since book 3.

And maybe it’s just my preference for action but compared to Goblet of Fire, reading Order of the Phoenix felt like dragging my feet through honey, slow and sticky.

Now I’ll just go hide under my table with a protective helmet, waiting for the hail of your scorn to pass, shall I?

Ahh, no, we can agree to disagree, can’t we, lovely readers? I have to give Rowling points for some things, though, and those were the ones that I’d forgotten and was pleasantly surprised to read this time around. I really liked how Fred and George finished their time at Hogwarts, I appreciated the extremely twisted Dolores Umbridge, I liked how clueless Harry was about Cho and I loved how Luna and Neville got their share of friendship and action.

But I was also rather glad the book was over and I could go on to read The Half-Blood Prince, which is my favourite of the series. I’ll be reviewing that one soon as I’ve already finished it.

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So, what’s your take on Order of the Phoenix

Do you prefer action-packed books or do you like to take things at a slower pace?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J. K. Rowling
Published 1999 by Bloomsbury.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased.

Genre: children's fantasy.

My rating:

Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It’s assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney’s ghoulish predictions seriously?

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Hello and welcome to Hogwarts! Again! I’m participating in Harry Potter Month and you should go and check out everyone’s posts because HP fans are amazing. (You can read my reviews for Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets, too.)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban introduces one of my favourite characters, Sirius Black – though I admit I like him more as Harry’s concerned godfather in Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix than a deraneged – albeit innocent – escaped prisoner. And MAN wouldn’t it be awesome if you could turn into a giant black dog? Padfoot is my favourite Marauder.

I’m not usually into time travel (and I saw that meme about saving Buckbeak) but I thought that the use of the time-turner was pretty clever in this story. There’s something neat about how Harry saves himself, Hermione and Sirius from dementors – the fact that he doesn’t need saving, really, has always appealed to me.

As with the previous two reviews, I have to add a complaint: it’s something that has always bothered me about Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry and Ron behave atrociously towards Hermione for the better part of the story – first because she tells the teachers about Harry’s mysterious gift, the Firebolt racing broom, and then because Ron thinks that Crookshanks, Hermione’s cat, ate his rat Scabbers. Look, I get it, Firebolt’s one hell of a broom and Scabbers was your (useless) pet for a couple of years but Hermione is a person and Crookshanks is a cat and could you please stop being nasty? Ugh.

Despite this bump in the H+R+H friendship, Prisoner of Azkaban features what is possibly the best story arc of the series. I always look forward to re-reading it because it’s the last of the “short” parts and also the last where Harry’s world isn’t consumed with the threat of Voldemort’s imminent return.

zmaj-levo

What would your boggart look like? I think mine would be a huge leech…

And while we’re at it – what animal would you transform into if you were an animagus (fox for me)?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by J. K. Rowling
Published 1999 by Bloomsbury.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased.

Genre: children's fantasy.

My rating:

All Harry Potter wants is to get away from the Dursleys and go back to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby – who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone–or something–starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects… Harry Potter himself.

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We’re on to another Harry Potter review! Go check out what other participants in Harry Potter Month are doing, their posts are pretty cool! :) And my review of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is also possibly worth reading.

So, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This one may possibly be my… ugh. I wanted to write “second favourite” but that’s Goblet of Fire (Half Blood Prince is first, in case you’re wondering), but then I also love Deathly Hallows and Prisoner of Azkaban so… Nope, I’m not sorting them. I just really like them all.

The story in this one is awesomePhilosopher’s Stone was all about getting to know the wizarding world and making friends and eating enough food for once but Chamber of Secrets is more sinister, the attacks are putting everyone on their toes and nobody knows who to trust.

But there’s still some comic relief in the form of Gilderoy Lockheart who is, I think, my favourite Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher (SERIOUSLY though, is DADA an acceptable acronym for this? It’s a mouthful!). He’s such an idiot but I love him all the same. I really like his movie version, too, I think Stephanie used the word “smarmy” which is exactly right for him. That duel with professor Snape is hilarious, and that chapter is one of the highlights of the book for me – both for the fun part and the big reveal at the end that Harry is a parselmouth.

As usual, I have to add a little something to balance out this devoted rambling: when I re-read the book this time I noticed something that never bothered me before: out of all the students at Hogwarts, many of whom are much more experienced in magic, Harry and Draco come out as the only suspects for the coveted position of Slytherin’s heir. I mean – of course Harry speaks to snakes and Draco is one nasty little kid (though I always had a soft spot for him) but can’t you at least check out some of the older students?

Also, why do all the Slytherins need to be bad? Do you know how troubling it is that 1/4 of the British wizarding population is thought inherently evil just because some moldy old hat put them in Slytherin? So unfair. Why is ambition thought to be a bad personal characteristic? This is a constant complaint for me – it doesn’t only relate to this book.

But these are minor issues, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets remains a favourite that I will read and re-read – hopefully with Kiddo, too, someday soon!

zmaj-levo

Do you know which HP book is your favourite? Is it even possible to rank them? 

Which DADA (haha DADA! It’s official now!) teacher is your favourite? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)