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- Me, Myself, and I
- Sadly, Eva Ibbotson passed away on 20 October 2010. She was 85.
Eva was born in Vienna but came to Britain at the age of eight with her family, refugees from Hitler. She always enjoyed scribbling stories, but didn't try to get anything published until she was quite grown-up. Eva was the author of many magical and evocative adventures. She was especially well-known for her books’ fantastic creatures, outrageous characters, and brilliant storytelling – all the product of her famously lively imagination. Eva’s novels touched the hearts and souls of generations of children (and their parents). She wrote with immense wit, economy and elegance – and her deceptively funny, engaging books always pack an emotional punch. Eva’s own fierce intelligence, self-deprecating humour, and wonderful quick wittedness are reflected in and will live on through her books.
'Eva Ibbotson weaves a magic like no other. Once enchanted, always enchanted.’ Michael Morpurgo
- Books for younger readers
- THE OGRE OF OGLEFORT, THE DRAGONFLY POOL, JOURNEY TO THE RIVER SEA, THE STAR OF KAZAN, MONSTER MISSION, THE BEASTS OF CLAWSTONE CASTLE, THE SECRET OF PLATFORM 13, WHICH WITCH?, DIAL A GHOST, NOT JUST A WITCH, THE GREAT GHOST RESCUE, THE HAUNTING OF HIRAM
- Books for older readers
- THE MORNING GIFT, A SONG FOR SUMMER, THE SECRET COUNTESS
Most people are happier when their feet are dry. They do not care to hear squelchy noises in their shoes or feel water seeping between their toes - but the Hag of the Dribble was different. Having wet feet made her feel better: it reminded her of the Dribble where she was born and had lived for the first seventy eight years of her life, and now she dipped her socks into the wash basin and made sure they were thoroughly soaked before she put them on her feet and went downstairs to make porridge for herself and her lodgers.
The Hag did not care for porridge - being fond of porridge is quite difficult - but she was glad to be busy; it helped her to cope with the terrible homesickness which attacked her each morning when she woke and saw the sooty brick wall of the house opposite instead of the wide sky and scudding clouds of the place where she had lived so long.
It is not easy to describe a Dribble. A Dribble is not exactly a marsh, nor is it really a bog or a water meadow, but it’s a bit like all of these. Anyone who has been brought up in a Dribble suffers terribly when they have to leave; it is so quiet and so peaceful, and the damp air is so soft. You are never alone in a Dribble - there are frogs and newts under your feet, and birds wheeling overhead, and dragonflies hovering over the pools, but often you do not see a human being for days on end.
Hags live for a very long time and she had expected to end her days there, and sink peacefully into the marshy ground when her life was done - but one day men had come with machines - more and more men and more and more machines, and had started to drain the Dribble and turn it into a building site.
So the Hag had come to London, not because she liked cities, she detested them, but because she needed to find work - and the work she found was running a boarding house for other Unusual People like herself - displaced witches or exhausted wizards or weary water sprites who had to do ordinary jobs because the time for magic seemed to be past.
The kettle had just come on to boil when she heard a noise like thunder coming from the room on the first floor where the troll was getting out of bed, and then a roar of fury. Ulf Oakroot also felt homesick when he woke up but his homesickness was not a damp, dreamy homesickness like the Hag's - it was a wild and angry longing for the forests of northern Sweden where he had been born.
Trolls are fierce and hairy, and extremely strong - and they have violent tempers. They can throw boulders for miles across fields and lift up small houses - but they love the woods in which they live and will do anything to protect them. So when the men had come with great saws and started to cut down the forests - not felling carefully - just destroying everything in their path, the trolls' world had been destroyed too. Ulf's brother had been killed trying to protect his home. And the men just came with more lorries and bigger saws - until they had turned whole hillsides into a wasteland.
After the death of his brother, Ulf had left his homeland and taken a ship to Great Britain and moved into a room in the Hag's boarding house. Now he worked as a hospital porter, and because he was so strong and didn't put up with any nonsense, the patients loved him. No one was ever kept waiting on a trolley in the corridor when Ulf was on duty, he just put his huge hairy hand on the handle of the trolley and with a great cry of: 'Out of my way' he shot off, with the patient shouting gleefully as they passed everybody else.
The Hag and the troll were good friends and by the time they had drunk three cups of tea they felt better. After all, when so many Unusual Creatures were going through bad times, losing their homes, doing jobs they would never have thought of doing in the olden days, it was wrong to grumble - and life at 26 Whipple Road was really not too bad.
'Where’s Gertie?' rumbled the troll, spearing a sausage. 'Still in the bathroom, I suppose?' The Hag
0 Comments 172 weeks
They were both born under the sign of Gemini, and for those who believe in the stars as arbiters of fate this must have seemed the link that bound them. She herself was to invoke the heavens when at last they met. ‘Could I be your star sister?’ she was to ask him, ‘Could I at least be that?’
Certainly it would seem to need the magic of star lore to link the life of the tiny, dark-eyed Austrian princess – born in a famous castle and burdened, in the presence of the Emperor Franz Joseph, with a dozen sonorous Christian names – with that of the abandoned, grey-blanketed bundle found on the quayside of a grim, industrial English town: a bundle opened to reveal a day-old, naked, furiously screaming baby boy.
Her birth thus was chronicled, documented and celebrated with fanfares (though she should have been a boy). But his . . .
It was the merest chance that he was found at all, for the bundle was half concealed by sacking and the Tyne docks that mid-morning in 1891 were high-piled with packing cases waiting to be loaded on the boats for Scandinavia, with rusty barrels, coils of rope and coal from the barges. But among the shawled and clogged women on their way to work on the Fish Quay there was one who had sharp ears and detected above the screeching of the gulls another, more frantic and urgent cry.
An hour later, in the Central Police Station in Newcastle upon Tyne, the contents of the bundle had been recorded in the register, found to be the fourteenth foundling abandoned in the city that month and noted to be male.
By the evening, the baby was in the arms of the matron of the Byker orphanage where, duly fed, bathed and clothed in the calico nightdress stitched by the ladies of the Christian Gentlefolk Association, it caused that excellent woman a certain puzzlement.
Bald, shading from puce to apricot and back again under the impact of his rage, the baby, squinting at her with the lascivious eyes of a Tunisian belly dancer, seemed to be made of a different, denser, substance that any she had known. She was sure she had never seen a baby that sucked its own wrist with such ferocity or screwed up its legs with such violence, and as she lowered it into the twelfth cot from the left she was already aware that the question she so often asked about abandoned babies, namely ‘Will it survive?’ was inappropriate. If there was a question to be posed about this latest addition to her orphanage, it was rather, would they survive him?
Visit www.panmacmillan.com or www.amazon.co.uk to buy MAGIC FLUTES.
0 Comments 217 weeks
Platform 1 had no barrier; it was the end one, by the ticket office and the refreshment room, and the girls who were gathered together there did indeed look very nice. They were all identically dressed in smart navy-blue blazers and straw hats with navy ribbons, and their white knee socks gleamed with cleanliness. Beside them stood calm and elegant parents tweaking their daughters’ clothes. Two teachers in grey coats with whistles round their necks moved among the girls. Cries of ‘Had a good hol, Daphne?’ or ‘Wait till you hear what I did, Cynthia!’ filled the air. They were exactly like the heroines in the books that Tally had been reading.
Tally bit her lip. How was she to join those beautifully turned-out girls, dressed as she was in her shabby tweed coat?
But at that moment the loudspeaker crackled into life.
‘This is a platform change. The school train for St Fenella’s Academy will now depart from Platform 6.’
And in an instant the beautifully turned-out girls and their parents hurried away.
‘Oh dear,’ said Aunt Hester, who had been much taken by the well-behaved children in their straw boaters. ‘I did hope they were bound for Delderton. They seemed so suitable.’
For a while Platform 1 was empty.
At least it was empty of anyone who might have been going away to school. There was a girl doing a handstand by the ticket office: her skirt swirled round her head; her knickers were white and pocket-less. A boy with wild dark hair appeared, carrying a glass tank containing something bald and white. His shoelaces were undone; water from the tank slopped on to his unravelling jersey. Another boy, wearing a boiler suit, was holding a banner that read: ‘Down with Tyrants.’ Behind him came a very pretty girl with bare feet.
‘Are they from a circus,’ wondered Aunt Hester, ‘or can’t they afford shoes? Her poor feet . . .’
More children arrived. Here and there were grown-ups: a woman dressed like an Aztec peasant with a blanket round her shoulders . . . a man in corduroys with huge patches on the sleeves and a rent in his trousers . . . a small fat man with an enormous beard . . .
The train steamed in.
‘Excuse me . . .’ Dr Hamilton had waylaid a porter. ‘Is this the train for St Agnes? The Delderton train?’
‘Aye,’ said the porter. ‘Better keep out of the way, sir – they’re savages, this lot,’ and he hurried off down the platform.
Click here to buy THE DRAGONFLY POOL http://www.panmacmillan.com/titles/d...
0 Comments 277 weeks