Friday, 22 December 2017

Merry Christmas! - from Sue Purkiss, on behalf of the ABBA team

Early last week, I was in Brussels, staying with my son and his family. I woke up early, when it was still dark, and settled down to finish the book I'd been reading. It was The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey; it's about a childless couple living in Alaska, who encounter a mysterious child. Is she real, or have they created her out of the snow and out of their need? It's very good. As I finished it, I glanced out of the window. In the light of a street lamp, I saw that the soft drizzle was turning first to sleet, then to snow. I didn't expect it to settle, but it did. It was a magical moment - it was as if the book itself had conjured up the snow, just as the couple had conjured up the child.

There's something about the first snowfall, isn't there? Especially when you're watching it through a window, and no-one else is about, and you don't have to go anywhere, but can just watch, spellbound. It's as if you're being drawn into another world, mysterious and enchanting. Which is rather like what happens when you read certain children's books. And if the book is set at Christmas time - and if it involves snow - the effect is multiplied, like the image you see at the end of a kaleidoscope, which in turn is rather like a bejewelled version of a snowflake.

In Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising, Will Stanton wakes up on Midwinter Day - the 21st December, and hears a fleeting phrase of music. As he looks out, he sees that his world has suddenly changed. The snow was there as it had been a moment before, but not piled now on roofs or stretching flat over lawns and fields. There were no roofs, there were no fields. There were only trees... And no-one else wakes up. He is alone.

And of course there's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the magical land of Narnia, covered in snow and lit by a single lamp post. I'm sure you have your own favourites, and it would be great to hear about them. Sue Bursztynski, aka The Great Raven, has written about hers here, and over on Twitter, there's a shared conversation going on at the behest of Robert MacFarlane between fans of The Dark Is Rising as they reread it over the time span covered by the book; over on Katherine Langrish's blog you can read her take on Narnia.

But apologies: I'm getting distracted! What I'm really meant to be doing is telling you that An Awfully Big Blog Adventure will be taking a break now until the New Year, when we'll back with lots more from the world of children's books. 

Have a wonderful break, and may you all find lots of magical new books underneath your Christmas trees!


Penny Dolan said...

Lovely post - and a Happy Christmas and New Year to you too!

Andrew Preston said...

Lovely photo. Traditional English watery sunset.