Two for Children of All Ages

I’m quite a bit behind with my book blogging, due to the mayhem which comes with preparing to move house after 26 years of living here. I can hardly get into some rooms, they’re so piled up with boxes. Books are lovely, but a nightmare when it comes to moving elsewhere!

Anyway, it must have been at least four weeks since I finished reading Children of the New Forest. The original book was quite a bit longer than my copy which has been edited to cut out the more boring bits apparently.

I enjoyed this one, in parts it reminded me of The Little House on the Prairie books. There are similar descriptions of how they survived and thrived in a new environment.

The children in the title are the four Beverley children. Two boys and two girls, their parents were Royalists during the Civil War. When Cromwell’s men burned their large family home down it was believed that the four children had perished in the fire, but they had been taken into the home of a poor forester who passes them off as his grandchildren. This entails teaching them how to be peasants, rather than the product of a privileged upbringing which they really are.

The life of a peasant sounded idyllic then as it was before the land and forests were enclosed and the only animals which were off limits were the deer, not that that stopped them from shooting deer.

So as the children needed milk they managed to capture and tame a wild cow and in no time they had a surplus of food which they could sell at the market. Sadly the boys learned how to farm and hunt, while the girls learned to cook and keep house. This book probably isn’t for the squeamish as at the beginning there is quite a lot of hunting and descriptions of animals being butchered going on. Apart from that I would have been quite happy to move into that woodland cottage.

The story ends with the eldest boy going off to fight for Charles II and helping him to return as King.

The second children’s book which I’ve read recently is Doctor Dolittle’s Garden. I’m likely to pick up any book which has garden in the title to have a look at it, which is how I ended up buying this one recently. I must admit that I was also drawn to the vibrant artwork of the endpapers.

I hadn’t heard of this series of books before, but I realised that the Doctor Dolittle film starring Rex Harrison was based on the books. I never liked Rex Harrison as an actor, he was neither use nor ornament as far as I’m concerned but someone must have liked him – or he knew where the bodies were buried!

Doctor Dolittle is of course conversing with all sorts of animals and when he finds one which he isn’t able to talk to he isn’t happy until he can find a way of communicating with them. The book has lots of humorous illustrations by the author. These have been reprinted but my copy is an old hardback from 1927, so I’m not sure if the new ones have the illustrations. You can see some Hugh Lofting illustrations here.

And here’s a photo of those zingy endpapers.

4 thoughts on “Two for Children of All Ages

  1. The contrast between the two books is interesting. You know my ethics, so you won’t find it strange that I found Children of the New Forest distasteful and chose not to finish it, but that I love all the Doctor Dolittle books. I’d rather talk to the animals than slaughter them!

    • Joan,
      I think that the hunting bits of Children of the New Forest were mainly at the beginning but I can see why you didn’t finish it. I’m going to be looking out for more of the Doctor Dolittle books but I want the old editions so it’ll take me a while to track them down.

  2. I loved the Dr Dolittle books when I was a child! I remember going to the library and choosing another one to read. I must have read a whole series of them. Polynesia the parrot! The pushmepullewe! Oh they were great! You’ve jogged my memory now, Katrina! I think I may have to find a copy somewhere!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *