Wednesday, 20 May 2009

A book at bedtime.




Youngest and I are reading the Borrowers omnibus by Mary Norton as our bedtime story at the moment. We love it. It is nothing I hasten to add at all like the film starring Jim Broadbent, which is why I suspect it has captured the hearts of children for so long, it is far more believable and far more realistic, it holds both the harsh terror children feel at being small in a large world and the frustration of trying to live under someone else’s rules. The land of the borrowers is a world in which one can disappear and a land where anything is believable. I remember reading it at my son’s age and wishing desperately for it to be real, for them to be real. I made small shelters for them amongst the shrubbery in the garden and built furniture from cotton reels and left them lying about in odd corners , yearning for them to be retrieved by tiny invisible hands.
Is it still I wonder every child’s hearts desire as I remember it was mine, to live part of the stories they read and are read to? For a story and its characters to come to life? Do little girls still imagine themselves to be a princess stolen at birth by gypsies or boys see themselves as great heroes on horseback, galloping across the plains chasing Indians or is that all too politically incorrect now? Oh dear I do hope not!


Eldest who has gone beyond believing in fairytales has grown into the font of all knowledge about the film industry. She can name obscure actors and recite their entire careers at the drop of a hat. It is not unlike watching a movie with a Cannes film festival judge, “Ah yes” she will say as we catch a fleeting glimpse of some dark shadow darting across camera in a crowd scene, “Look! Of course that’s so and so, he was better, I think, as the small one legged Eskimo in such and such directed by so and so , although some would argue his appearance in the now banned blah blah blah was really his greatest triumph”. She can recite entire scripts after only one hearing ( great when we are travelling with her younger brothers, car journeys go much faster with her keeping them enthralled with her one man performance of “Lilo and stitch” or” Shrek one, two and three” complete with voices and music). She does not, I hasten to add, get it from me. I am hard pressed to remember anyone’s names let alone a cast of thousands.

Anyway as ever I digress, back to the world of fantasy meeting fiction, Eldest is for ever emailing me you tube clips for promising films which she thinks I will enjoy ( and obviously should buy as she wants to see them too). They are of a wide spectrum with a heavy emphasis on family films; she has for instance decided that although she wants to see Dark Knight or whatever the batman movie is called it is highly unsuitable for our suggestible and sensitive middle son who would have nightmares for weeks. Despite his constant pleading she has instituted her own censorship programme on our DVD collection and her suggested purchase list comes with appropriate comments like “Daddy would not enjoy this far too girly but I think we might” or “too much violence for the boys perhaps we might buy it (note the royal we!) And watch when they are in bed“. Sometimes she is so sensible and grown up it puts her parents to shame.

This months offerings have included several on a similar theme, which ,oh good and patient reader ,leads me back and links to my opening meanderings , that of stories engulfing readers and drawing them into their plots in a truly physical sense. This isn’t a new theme I know, after all look at Jimanji, (or if you are like me, don’t look at it far far too frightening) or the Never Ending story (and it really is never ending but half way through I was begging for it to finish).
The two top of her list though are far more subtle and less threatening by far than some, the first being Inkheart with Jim Broadbent again and Brendan Fraser has been voted thrilling but possibly unsuitable for those smaller family members of a nervous disposition. The unanimous favourite stars Adam Sandler ( whom we all agreed was wonderful in 50 first dates, only upstaged by a vomiting walrus ). We the selection committee, have watched all the you tube trailers and extracts, we have read the blurb, it has been approved by the family previewing and censorship board ( Eldest and I) and so tonight that is we are having the family premiere performance of , “Bedtime Stories” http://www2.disney.co.uk/DisneyDVDs/DVDs/bedtime_stories.jsp


Watch it and see what you think…and remember a good book and bring its words to life, and I think a good film can perhaps do the same for a good book?
ps I had a wonderful embedded link but it jsut won't work so I hope the one above will surfice instead..
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The illustration is one of the original line drawings from the first edition of the borrowers Homily in her kitchen, by Diana Stanley, 1952, for 'The Borrowers' by Mary Norton

12 comments:

Faith said...

Oh I adored the Borrowers - still do. Also enjoyed the follow on books - Afield, Afloat etc. Looking back on my life, I don't think I ever had so much pleasure as when I was with, say, Arriety when she first was living in the boot and felt the warm sun for the first time as she climbed a branch and tasted a wild strawberry... or so many other characters in the books I had (and still have) as a child.

Your child sounds amazing - how on earth does he (or is it a she? sorry I can't recall) remember so much?

Pondside said...

This looks good - something for a Friday night.
For several years I was one of the March girls from Little Women, Katy in What Katy Did and even Jane of Jane Eyre.....wonderful memories!

muddyboots said...

Books, yummy, Borrowers great favorite, Haz is a keen film buff but in the X Men slot, YUK, but still have rather a lot of my childhood books and seem to be taking over the house in with my adult reads!

jackofall said...

In a film peopled occasionally by Sir Fixalot and Sir Buttkiss, the latter romantically linked with both Princess Fashionista and the demi-troll, Aspen, and offering raining gumballs, cherry-red ferraris and angry dwarfs (believe me, I'm not giving the plot away here), Bedtime Stories is, I can confirm, a great family movie, of the sort I like to call under dog movies.

Well chosen, that girl.

As for the Borrowers, I can shamefully say that I've never read them, only heard passing extracts being read aloud to Youngest, but I have read the modern sort of equivalent by Terry Pratchett, Diggers, Truckers and Wings (The Bromeliad is what the collection is called).

Elizabethd said...

I loved the Borrowers, but was never one of them. Far sportier, (me?) I became Nancy from Swallows and Amazons. Maybe I'm like her...just bossy.

gaelikaa said...

You've inspired me to try to get my kids reading....one more time. I'd almost given up hope in this computer age of getting them into books. I experienced that thrill you describe so lucidly, of wanting to be a part of the stories one reads.....

MelRox said...

you seem to have a great daughter! just as great as your blog!

MelRox said...

you seem to have a great daughter! just as great as your blog!

Fennie said...

I don't know the Borrowers - though I've heard of it - somewhere - but as for being drawn into stories - well that's me, down to a 'T.' I am like blotting paper even at my advanced age, desperately influenced by this tale or that. I go to the Mill and I expect to hear the crank of artificial legs hoeing lettuces, or a rotund figure with arms like pistons beating the carpets.

Still this was a most enjoyable and lovely account. Your daughter sounds as though she has a great future. I wonder she isn't in Cannes just now.

Exmoorjane said...

Love this post....took me right back to my childhood and yes, desperately wanting books to be real and making small homes for creatures and leaving offerings for elves....meanwhile charging round garden pretending to be Jill with her two ponies, or demanding friends become the Famous Five. Do they do it now? Don't seem to, or at least not so much. Maybe though it's a girl thing more....

Love that eldest is now the official family critic. I loved the book of Inkheart and the film was pretty good. A little underwhelmed with Bedtime Stories though...

Frances said...

Bonjour Un Peu,

I have tagged you to join in yet another meme. Hoping you will join in the fun.

xo

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