All posts filed under: we love

Catherine Certitude by Patrick Modiano | edge of evening

We love: Catherine Certitude

In the mornings, Papa would wake me up. He would have made breakfast, which was waiting on our little table. He would open the shutters, and I could see him from the back, framed by the window. He looked out over the landscape of roofs, and way in the distance, to the glass done of the Gare de l’Est station. As he knotted his tie, he would say, in a thoughtful or sometimes very resolute tone, “Life, it’s just you and me.”Catherine Certitude by Patrick Modiano Catherine Certitude looked so beautiful that I picked it off the library shelf for nine-year-old T — & then I read the back and knew that it was coming straight home with us: ballet! Paris! childhood memories! Yes please! It’s now been passed from T to me, and then from me to B and I think we’ve all fallen under its atmospheric spell. It’s a slim tale told in short sections of prose, beautifully illustrated by Sempé. Like that Christmas stalwart The Snowman, it opens with an adult encountering an object which leads them …

We love: Melric and the Dragon

A new-to-us series of books by David McKee, creator of Elmer the Elephant, King Rollo & Mr Benn. Yes, please! Melric the King’s magician, comes to the rescue when reports of dragons are brought to the palace. The King’s soldiers are getting fat & he thinks that a dragon hunt will be just the thing to give them some much needed exercise. But are the dragons really as terrifying as all that? While the soldiers blunder off hunting all the wrong kinds of dragon — kites, pub signs, paintings — Melric sets about finding the real dragon. Melric and the Dragon is sweet, funny and entertaining, and the pictures contain little details that sharp-eyed readers love to return to: the soldier cutting a cake with his sword, the old lady knitting, the pair of soldiers buying burgers before they set out on the dragon hunt. There’s a great short video (3 minutes) of David McKee talking about his work here. It seems that the Melric books have been around since the 70s but I’d somehow never come across them before. Five are …

A Christmas Card by Paul Theroux | edge of evening

We love: A Christmas Card

Whenever I see light feathers of snow moving slowly down a window to make a white pillow on the sill, and hear the thin moan of wind through casement cracks in a room where a fireplace is singing with flames, I remember the Christmas when I was nine, and our house at Indian Willows.  The Christmas Card by Paul Theroux We’re all home — from work & school — and it feels so good to be free of any obligations other than those we choose. No swimming, no ballet, no football, no rushing; just coffees with new neighbours & with old friends, cooking all of the delicious things that have become part of our family Christmas, and generally being in. Though the weather’s still mild, it’s turned wet & windy, and the winter solstice seems like the perfect time to stay close to home and close to one another. And, at long last, I bring you a Christmassy read. I saw A Christmas Card in the Oxfam bookshop last week and picked it up, inspired by Kerry’s reading …

Mog's Christmas Calamity by Judith Kerr | edge of evening

We love: Christmas 2015

It’s that time of the year when life starts clipping along at an alarming rate. We enjoyed the Pip-Pop’s ‘big 3’ weekend & have now reached a hitherto unknown shore in our parenting lives: for the first time, our three-year-old is also our youngest. We’re beyond nappies and now, after the grand dismantling that took place on Sunday, beyond cots too. So, birthday over, it’s now all about Christmas. And I mean all about Christmas. The school Christmas Fair (the one I once took a two-day-old baby to!) is tomorrow. One child is singing at the Christmas market by the Cathedral this lunchtime. Another is practising his songs at pre-school for a slot at a nearby village church’s Christmas Fair next week. The school Christmas plays are next week. An innkeeper’s costume has been sourced from the lovely lady at the charity shop who spends all year turning old curtains into bespoke nativity costumes. The child who auditioned for a ‘big’ part and came home in tears because she’s Donkey number 3 has been consoled and is ready to make donkey ears over …

Ant and Bee | edge of evening

We love: Ant and Bee

This book is called Ant and Bee because it is all about Bee and Ant. Ant and Bee by Angela Banner This one’s for B. I heard about Ant and Bee long before I met them and, in the way that books from even our own childhoods do, they sounded like they were probably made up. Who were these characters Ant and Bee and their friend Kind Dog who B remembered so fondly? Did Ant and Bee really cry when their shopping got squashed? And was this so immeasurably sad to a young child that it would be remembered for the next twenty years? (Let’s not even talk about the ‘spoons that have fallen behind the stove and are never seen again’ in Arnold Lobel’s Owl at Home. Or maybe, let’s, but another time…) The Ant and Bee books were rumoured to be with his sister. But since we have a book with her name very clearly inscribed on its flyleaf, we didn’t ask. I looked for them online from time to time but I couldn’t find them. Then, …

We love: Rasmus and the Tramp

Rasmus was sitting in his regular notch in the linden tree, thinking about things that shouldn’t be allowed to exist. Potatoes were at the top of the list. Cooked, with gravy on them for Sunday dinner they were all right, but when they kept on sprouting in the field and had to be dug up — then they shouldn’t be tolerated. Thanks to our sweet neighbour, a retired teacher who had read this one to her classes many times over, we have just finished Rasmus and the Tramp (Rasmus and the Vagabond in the US) by Astrid Lindgren, famous for her Pippi Longstocking stories. It was a very special read for this family, and for the five year-old Moose in particular, because it’s the first time that he’s ever encountered his name in print. And a huge thrill for the one who gave him such an unusual name (for the UK at least — he’d be commonplace in Estonia or Scandinavia), to have such a feisty, resourceful and kind namesake to read to him about. Rasmus …

We love: Little You

  Last Thursday, the Pip-Pop & I were lucky enough to meet Kerry Clare & her delightful family. We spent the day in Windsor, arriving just in time to catch changing the guard, which left Popsy screwing his eyes tight shut & saying soldiers not nice. But, aside from the soldiers, everything was very nice: wandering, chatting, eating, and whiling away three hours as if they were thirty minutes. Obviously I was excited to meet Kerry and Stuart and their daughters, but I was also excited to have the chance to eat with them. Having followed their travels online, they looked like a family who know how to find a good meal. And I was right: if you ever get the chance to eat with these guys I suggest you grab it. We had a delicious lunch in Bel & the Dragon (at the very exciting chalkboard table), followed by New Forest ice creams in the sunshine. And the nicest thing of all was how very normal it felt to be hanging out with them. We also …

We love(d): I am a Bunny

“I am a bunny. My name is Nicholas. I live in a hollow tree.” My mum has been clearing out her loft. When we visited at half-term there were two towering piles of boxes in her garage: one pile for me, one for my brother. There were boxes of dolls frosted with a white bloom of mould. Rachel, my favourite, who came with me every day of my first year at school went straight into the bin with the others. (My teacher, Mrs Wheeler, used to give Rachel her own copy of the letters home. This was the same year that I tried to run away from school every day. I can still remember the caretaker chasing after me.) I didn’t even look at my primary school exercise books & paintings before I put them into the recycling. A useful lesson here: my children will not be grateful if I save these things for them for the next thirty years. And then, three crumbling boxes of mildewed books. The books came home with me. My …

We love: Lunchtime

When the Tesco’s guy arrived yesterday evening, a full two minutes after the end of our one-hour delivery slot, all three of my children fell upon him like they hadn’t eaten for months. Though, in fact, a neighbour’s daughter and her friends had knocked on our door selling cupcakes for charity not ten minutes earlier & a trail of crumbs led from the hall to the living room rug. The Pip-Pop helped me to unpack the shopping (‘Oh, more noodle, Mumma. More noodle ‘gain, Mumma.’), T returned to the story she was writing (500 Words), & the Moose lay down on the sofa and watched TV in his after-school pose of total exhaustion. Of course, when I called them to the table to eat their rather late tea no-one would come. Lunchtime is the sweet tale of a little girl who is too busy drawing to stop for lunch. When her mum gets cross & sends her to the table she’s joined by the bear, wolf and crocodile from her pictures. Will they eat her …

We love: This Little Baby

I don’t know how many copies of This Little Baby we’ve got through in seven years as parents. I found three copies in various book baskets around the house this morning & I know that I’ve had to recycle at least one copy due to an over-enthusiastic reader who decided to literally gobble it up. My love for it is unashamed nostalgia. Each of my children has adored its simple rhymes, its black and white photos of babies, and its surprise mirror ending. An ending, I might add, that I’ve often had to change to ‘these are the babies I love the very best’ as children lean over the book for a glimpse of themselves in the mirror. (For complete accuracy, I also add my own enthusiastic ‘waa, waa, waaaa!’ to the page with the baby who makes lots of noise.) It’s a book that has stayed the course from the very earliest days of our parenthood. A book that I know by heart & probably always will. Reading it in his cot last week …