Thursday, 19 May 2022

Book buddying - knots and treasures - by Joan Haig

I've decided to return to my 'book buddies' mini reviews. I like gifting books in pairs. Sometimes I choose books that are wildly different to one another; at other times, I select books for their overlapping themes. As I book swap and buy secondhand books, not all are new releases. Every quarter I will be sharing a book buddy pair here.

These two books are beautiful. They are strikingly orange - perfect for summertime! The Armourer's House by Rosemary Sutcliff, originally published in 1951, invites readers into the Tudor world of nine-year-old Tamsyn who moves from the seaside to London, where unexpected adventure awaits. There's something enthralling about reading historical fiction that is itself tipping into a historical read. As with other Manderley Press titles, this one is expertly prefaced - here by Lara Maiklem, author of Mudlarking. The shoreside theme is a perfect match for Knots and How to Tie Them by Lucy Davidson, which does exactly what it says on the cover. More than this, it goes against the grain of marketing the art of knot tying chiefly to boys. Both books are tactile and filled with skills and story that will broaden young horizons.

The Armourer's House by Rosemary Sutcliff, illustrated by Isabel Greenberg
40 Knots and How to Tie Them by Lucy Davidson, illustrated by Maria Nilsson

Previous book buddies include...

The Race by Roy Peachey
Danny Chung does not do maths by Maisie Chan

Here are two impressive debuts aimed at untangling Chinese people and culture from their stereotypes. I'm not sure Danny Chung's family escapes the stereotyping, but Danny does - and his escapades are bright with wit, charm and (often delicious sounding) cultural detail. The Race is dual narrative, but the voice that dominates is Lili, a young girl already wearied by other people's inability to grasp her identity as British Chinese and adopted. While Chan and Peachey's writing, tone and narratives are nothing alike, both books are about competition, loyalty, classroom antics and grandmothers. They'll make young readers think outside boxes and will leave them smiling.

Jack's Well by Alan McClure
Beside the Ocean of Time by George Mackay Brown
In some ways, these books are nothing like each other. (They are certainly like nothing else.) Jack's Well is honest, clever and original and is worthy company for this most unusual and moving novel by Scottish literary hero Mackay Brown. Both are about a boy. Both are about daydreams, fate and building existential narratives. And, as if mirroring the themes in form, both take you outside the main body; there are stories within the story. I'd gift these book buddies to curious teen readers who like a bit of swashbuckling alongside their soul searching.
The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow by Emily Ilett
The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethell
The first two books I am buddying both speak the lyrical, rolling language of the sea. One is set in Scotland and the other in Papua New Guinea. These stories will take young readers on very different but equally ethereal and engaging adventures, while preparing them for (or helping them to) confront painful issues - namely, loss and coping with change. Both celebrate sisterhood. These book buddies are the literary equivelant of sea salt and buttery caramel - a winning combination.



I hope you've enjoyed my pairings. My next book buddy post will be in Autumn!


Nick Garlick said...

Great idea. Lovely post. Thanks for the recommendations.

Anonymous said...

Aw, thanks! 🙂