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Mustn’t Grumble. In Search of England and the English by Joe Bennett.

May 19, 2020 Comments off

grumbleMustn’t Grumble. In Search of England and the English by Joe Bennett. Pub.Pocket Books, imprint Simon& Schuster, 2007.

I have had this book about 10 years now and with a dearth of children and YA books on the market right now, I decided to read it. What a joy! It made my heart sing. I do warn you though, if you are an aspiring writer stay away it will totally demoralize you with the class of writing.

The title tells you all you want to know, the text is the evidence. Bennett’s descriptive prose and use of simile and metaphor is outstanding superseded only by his magnificent sense of humour and appreciation of the absurd.

Joe read H.V. Morton’s travel story In Search of England when he was 16years, after 18 years in New Zealand he went back to England to follow the trail of Morton to see how things had changed or remained the same. He finds both.

I will not spoil it for you by telling you much more about what he found but I will tell this story. He borrowed a friends Audi to travel around having found hitch hiking impossible. He wanted to visit a place called Coombe Gibbet where a couple who had murdered children were hung. He stopped to ask a man directions and this is how he described him.  “His accent is not of place but of status. It purrs with income and I hear my own accent revving up through the tax brackets to meet it. I always do that in England….In new Zealand I don’t do it.

If you want to read literature of quality then this is a masterpiece.

Grandad’s Guitar by Janine McVeagh. illus. Fifi Colston.

May 24, 2017 Comments off

grandads guitarGrandad’s Guitar by Janine McVeagh. illus. Fifi Colston. Pub. Makaro Press, 2017.

When Kahu is given a worn and scratched old guitar for his birthday by his Nana, he is not pleased. “why can’t I have a new one?“.

So Nana tells him the history of the guitar that was owned by his grandfather, has been around the world, entertained people from many cultures and was a strong binding factor in the relationship between his grandparents.

As Nana tells this story to Kahu he is learning to play the guitar and has three chords mastered by the end of the story.

It is probably set in the 1970’s when many New Zealanders took off for their OE on board an Italian passenger liner. I did and this picture book has a strong nostalgia about it for me and  I suspect many other grandparents out there. This is their story too.

Grandfather played the guitar all over Europe, through the Middle East to India. It nearly got swept away but now Kahu has it. He is proud.

Fifi Colston’s excellent illustrations show the hippy culture of the time, the combi van, the relationship between the grandparents and the various cultures that they met in their travels.

All in all a classy publication. It is released today at $25.00 a copy. Well worth it.

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