A Country Christmas by Miss Read is a compilation of short stories which have been published previously. The White Robin is the longest at around 140 pages , I suppose it would be called a novella. It’s about the excitement in the village of Fairacre when an albino robin is sighted and makes its home close to the school playground. The children feed ‘Snowboy’ and look forward to the remote possibility of more albino robins next Spring.
Most of the stories are set in the village of Fairacre although there’s also an excerpt from one of the Caxley books.
The original publication dates range from 1951 to 1992, and those featuring the village school seem even older than the 1950s although I imagine that they are quite true to how things were in a rural school, probably more old-fashioned than a city school. This is what makes the stories charming though, and the children’s behaviour and chat, and the teacher’s comments to them seem authentic, they’re certainly entertaining.
As ever there’s love, laughter, gossip and tragedy, but most of the stories have a Christmas or winter setting which I appreciated, despite our weather being freezing at the moment.
On a different subject, I was listening to BBC Radio 2 this morning, to a piece which is available to listen to in the BBC Sounds Archives. It dated from the 1950s and the interviewer was asking children what they wanted for Christmas. They hoped to get things like a sewing set, a doll and one wee lad wanted a pencil sharpener!! How different from nowadays when kids expect to have things costing hundreds of pounds for Christmas!
BBC Archives from 1966 can be seen below, children were asked to imagine life in the year 2000, but there are all sorts of things available, although they might be blocked for people outside the UK.