Good morning everyone!
Today, we have another brilliant guest post from another brilliant author. I had the joy of reading Sophie’s book a few months ago and I just ADORED it. It made me laugh so much and one of the girls in my class is currently absolutely adoring it! Sophie is here today to talk about her favourite childrens books… because you KNOW we love kids books around here!
Orphans of St. Halibuts
“There’s something fishy going on at St Halibut’s Home for Waifs and Strays… Life at St Halibut’s Home has been idyllic for two months, ever since the children buried their matron (don’t look like that – it was an accident!). But when they find out that St Halibut’s is to be inspected by DEATH (the Department for Education, Assimilation, Training and Health), they start to panic. They’ll need to convince the inspector that everything is peachy or they’ll be sent to the Mending House – where badly-behaved orphans go, never to return. As the big day approaches, the children start to think they might just pull it off. But when the inspector arrives, things don’t just go wrong, they get spectacularly out of hand…”
Favourite children’s book
I’m not sure when exactly I first read Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. I know that I heard them before I could understand them – my mum read them to me in my cot to try to get me to sleep. Alongside, with superb inappropriateness, the works of Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, her other favourites. Though she wisely stopped before I was old enough for the Illustrated Man to give me nightmares.
My battered copy of The World of Pooh has been nearby ever since, and remains my go-to fiction for comfort and pleasure. For me, it has a unique magic that I suspect is possessed only by those books we read when we are small. They lodge themselves into our hearts and we grow around them. Because of A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard, I knew I wanted to write.
Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga, Roo and Tigger are wonderful in many ways. But they’re far from perfect. Between them they can be selfish, silly, arrogant, insecure, morose and irritating. Rabbit is hostile to outsiders at first, too, when Kanga and Roo arrive in the forest. And mostly, they stay as they are, not really seeming to learn lessons, with the possible exception of that episode.
They are not ‘moral tales’, but they are deeply moral, and funny with it. From this comes powerful charm. Reading these stories as a child, I saw how it’s possible to love people with all their flaws; how to be a good friend; what real companionship is like. I learned from Eeyore what it means to appreciate the small things in life (I even kept a burst balloon in a jar – like his treasured birthday present, it went in and out like anything).
Eeyore has always been my favourite, I think because in him I could see my dad – who suffered from depression and schizophrenia – and it showed me how to be with him during bad times. It would be easy to grow impatient with Eeyore, but you come to treasure him, and see the best in him, because his friends do. It’s the same with the others – they bear (sorry) with each other.
I strongly associated Kanga with my mother. The incident where Rabbit kidnaps Roo to persuade the two of them to leave the forest felt like an insight into her inner life: ‘Just for a moment she was frightened, and then she knew she wasn’t; for she felt sure that Christopher Robin would never let any harm happen to Roo.’ Like my mum back then, Kanga is not immune to fear, but she is rational, artful, and has a wicked sense of humour.
In fact, that last quote summarizes what these books did for me. The world of Pooh was filled with mistakes, bad tempers, and deep flaws, but I felt completely safe in it. Its humour wasn’t brashly laugh out loud, more ticklish and warm. It showed me what qualities to look for in my friends, and gave me hope that when I got things wrong, they wouldn’t reject me, but just say with Christopher Robin, ‘Silly old bear.’
The Orphans of St Halibut’s by Sophie Wills is published on 1st October 2020, RRP £7.99.
A massive thank you to Sophie for taking the time to write this post! Check out the rest of the blog tour below… I’ve had the pleasure of kicking it all off, so do go check out the other stops and get your hands on this brilliant adventure!