Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Lady Davina Dove
The McBaby's heart-warming habit of carefully carrying a book across the room, placing it into my hands and sitting down waiting to be read to has highlighted his favourite stories; Aliens Love Underpants, the Very Hungry Caterpillar and When the Dragons came.
Thanks goodness there's no more need for me to read the truly terrible modern version of Jack and the Beanstalk which unbelievably seems to encourage and applaud theft.
So it was much to my delight that Lady Davina Dove flew through the letterbox in time for Christmas. One of a series of 12 stories in The Manor House Stories by Jani Tully Chaplin, they were written about 25 years ago for her children and only came to life by chance in 2011.
Each of the 12 stories follows characters around a large Manor House in the English countryside, so fittingly, there's a lovely introduction from Mr Manor House himself Julian Fellowes praising the stories for their "wonderful and detailed world in miniature full of truth and consequence like all good stories should."
There's a large cast of characters, some with long names, so little ones may need help to remember them, but this does not detract for the gentle story with plenty of description about Christmas in a manor house in times past that will you leave you with a warm nostalgia.
However, it's the illustrations that are the real draw here and the pictures deserve pride of place alongside the classics such as Beatrix Potter. The pictures are colourful and highly detailed and evocative of magical times. The two-year-old McBaby pored over each one to inspect the myriad goings-on before finally allowing me to turn the page.
Each illustration is a portrait in its own right and really got us into the festive spirit - the Christmas tree is already up!
I feel I may have read the best of the 12 first, but I look forward to the remaining 11 which all focus on other animals in the household from bailiff otters to ducks that are cooks. At £7.99 for each one, this looks like a collection to start with glee.