Thursday, 14 December 2017

Eight Glorious Gs by Lynne Benton

Luckily for this blog, there are several glorious authors whose names begin with G.

ELIZABETH GOUDGE was a prolific writer of books for adults as well as for children.  Born in Wells, Somerset, in 1900, her trilogy of historical novels for children, “City of Bells”, “The Dean’s Watch”, and “Towers in the Mist” are small masterpieces, but probably her best-known book for children is “The Little White Horse”, for which she won the Carnegie medal in 1946.  The television series “Moonacre” was based on this book, and one of her adult novels, “Green Dolphin Country”, was made into a film which won an academy award in 1948 under its American title “Green Dolphin Street”.  She died in 1984.

ALAN GARNER was born in Cheshire in 1934 and has written several wonderful books, mostly for children and all set in and around the Cheshire countryside.  Most of his books are fantasy, based on local folklore.  His first, “The Weirdstone of Brisingamen”, published in 1960, was soon followed by its sequel, “The Moon of Gomrath”, and then by “Elidor”, “The Owl Service” (for which he won the Carnegie medal) and “Red Shift”.  After several more books, some for adults, he finally published the long-awaited conclusion to his Weirdstone trilogy, “Boneland”, in 2012.

PAUL GALLICO wrote many stories for children as well as for adults.  Some of his best-known books for children are about animals, especially cats, most notably “Jennie” and “Thomasina, the Cat who Thought she was God” (filmed by Disney as “The Three Lives of Thomasina”, a donkey in “The Small Miracle”, and a ceramic mouse who comes to life by magic in “Manxmouse”.  He also wrote “Snowflake”, described as “a beautiful allegory about the meaning of life.”  Born in America, he died in 1976.

MORRIS GLEITZMAN is an Australian author who has written many books for children.  Born in 1953, he has written some very funny books for younger children, most notably his Toad series.  However, his recent award-winning series for older children about a Jewish boy during the Holocaust, are darker and more haunting.  These are, in order, “Once”, “Then”, “Now”, “After”, “Soon”, and “Maybe”.

And now to two brothers whose names will never be forgotten: JACOB and WILHELM GRIMM.  During the 19th century they collected and published folklore, and popularised so many of the stories everyone knows today: Cinderella, The Frog Prince, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltzkin, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and many others.  Their first collection of folktales was published in 1812, and although many of their original versions were full of cruelty and violence, in later version the Grimm Brothers sanitised them.  Nowadays most of them have been filmed, by Disney among others, so there can be few people who have never come across them.

KENNETH GRAHAME is another writer of whom few people will be ignorant.  Born in 1859, he worked in a bank for most of his adult life but wrote one of the most iconic children’s books of all time, “The Wind in the Willows”, published in 1908 with illustrations by E H Shepard.  He wrote other books as well, and some short stories, but his story of Mole, Ratty, Badger and Toad is his best-loved.  A. A. Milne wrote the play “Toad of Toad Hall”, based on the character of Toad, in 1929.  Grahame died in 1932.

JAMILA GAVIN was born in India, but moved to England when she was twelve.  She has written many books for children and teenagers reflecting her Indian background, several of which have been broadcast or dramatized for television or the stage.  Her book, “Coram Boy”, set in 18th century England, was published in 2000 and won the Whitbread Children’s Book award.  It has also been adapted for the stage.  Jamila lives in Gloucestershire.

DEBI GLIORI is an award-winning Scottish writer and illustrator of children’s books, many of which are reassuring story books for young children, ideal for bedtime reading.  Her latest is “Goodnight World”.  She lives near Edinburgh with her five children.

I am really enjoying rediscovering authors I have loved, as well as those I am discovering for the first time.  (I also keep finding myself wanting to reread old favourites, long since returned to the library, so my pile of books continues to grow...) I do hope some of you are enjoying them too – and doubtless adding others of your own!


Ann Turnbull said...

Most of these bring back memories from the '70s, when I was not a child but was reading a lot of children's books. Going further back, my Dad introduced me to Paul Gallico - especially The Snow Goose. And, even longer ago, when I was 4, my Dad read me The Wind in the Willows as my bedtime serial story. Unfortunately I found it terribly boring (I was probably too young for it) but didn't have the heart to tell him so - and I've never picked it up since!

Penny Dolan said...

Lovely collection of titles, Lynne.

Lynne Benton said...

Thank you for your kind comments. And Ann, your story just proves how important it is to introduce books to children when they are at the right age! (You might enjoy it now...) I first heard "The Wind in the Willows" on Children's Hour on the radio, read by the incomparable David Davies, who made everything sound wonderful. Anyone else remember him?