Book IDs (a longish delurk)

Abigail Gawith A_Gawith at darwath.freeserve.co.uk
Sun Jan 30 18:49:46 EST 2000


OK, a plea for identification has finally dragged me out of the shadows.
Usually I reply to these off-list, because I'm shy, but the book in
question...

> 1. This book may have been a little like a non-horror version of
"Gremlins".
> About a boy who befriends a cute ratlike creature in an old house... and
> later finds some tadpoles that grow into more of these ratlike
> creatures...??

... Has *got* to be 'Bogwoppit', by Ursula Moray Williams.  One of my
favourite books ever. :)  Although I'll admit I haven't read it for a good
few years.

The edition I had (still have, but like most of my books it's still at my
parents' house)was illustrated - maybe by Shirley Hughes - and the bogwoppit
was depicted as being black, feathered, dumpy, and with a little beak.  It
had blue eyes, although the later ones had green ones.  The children (I
think a brother and sister and their friends, a nearby family) were living
with an aunt who hated the bogwoppits, which hated her back.

I second the identification of the book about the Flyers as "Windhaven",
which I picked up the other week because one of the co-authors is George
R.R. Martin, and
 I've enjoyed "A Game of Thrones" and its sequel so much.  Just to tie in
with another thread.  And the books that I associate with those, probably
because of the wolves, are Robin Hobb's "Assassin" trilogy; and if you like
strong female characters, her latest trilogy, of which the first is "Ship of
Magic" and the third is not yet published, would certainly qualify.

My taste in books doesn't seem to tally too well with most of yours.  In the
realms of fantasy and science fiction, my favourite contemporary authors
(other than DWJ) are Barbara Hambly, Connie Willis, Robin Hobb, Sheri
Tepper, Tim Powers, Barry Hughart, Rosemary Kirstein, Laurell K. Hamilton,
Simon R. Green, Paula Volsky, David Feintuch (although I didn't care for his
foray into fantasy) and Lois McMaster Bujold.  I haven't read most of the
books that have been discussed recently - I've never read any McKinley, took
against McCaffrey early on and I'm not sure I'd even heard of Garth Nix -
and wonder if in some cases it's because they just didn't get published over
here (Britain), or were published as adult while I was still limited to a
children's ticket at the library.  I do remember seeing The Perilous Gard in
an import edition a couple of years ago, but it was expensive (US paperbacks
often get their prices changed dollar-for-pound in bookshops), so I didn't
buy it.

Children's authors I love include Paul Biegel, Edward Eager, Michael Ende,
A.A. Milne, Nicholas Stuart Gray, Norton Juster, Noel Langley, Cynthia
Voigt, Ruth Elwin(?) Harris, Joan Aiken (especially Arabel and Mortimer!),
Paul Jennings, J.P. Martin, J.B.S. Haldane ("My Friend, Mr. Leakey") and
William Sleator.  Then there are authors by whom I like *some* work:
"Children of the Dust" by Louise Lawrence, although maybe "like" isn't the
word, and "This Time of Darkness" and "Children of Morrow" by H.M. Hoover.
(I've heard that there was a sequel to the latter, but I've never been able
to find it.  Is she really still writing?  In which country?)  "A Pack of
Lies" by Geraldine McCaughrean, "Uninvited Ghosts" by Penelope Lively and
"Hundreds and Hundreds", edited by Peter Dickinson, are my favourite short
story collections other than the ones by authors already listed; I have a
fondness for the "Stories for n-year-olds" collections by Sara and Stephen
Corrin too.  "Hundreds and Hundreds" included "A Plague of Peacocks", to
bring it on-topic. :)

My favourite DWJ are... Howl's Moving Castle, Fire and Hemlock, Charmed
Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant, Witch Week, A Tale of Time City, The
Ogre Downstairs, The Homeward Bounders and Eight Days of Luke.  I can't cut
it down from that, and it's only with reluctance that I omit Archer's Goon,
Castle in the Air and "The Magicians of Caprona".

I graduated with a degree in Maths & Computer Science in June and I'm now
working as a software engineer in Cambridge, England - so yes, Cambridge,
Massachusetts needs the qualifier. :)  Like Philip, I've never done any
literary criticism, and I'm rather disconcerted that nearly all the rest of
you have studied it.  Is it on the curriculum from an early age in the rest
of the world?  It didn't form part of English Literature up to GCSE level,
although maybe it was part of the A-level syllabus; I'd become very bored
with English by that stage and took sciences and maths instead.

(GCSEs are the last hurdle of compulsory education - sat at age 16, after
which you can do what you please provided you've got the grades.  You have
to take a wide spectrum of courses, typically between seven and eleven,
including certain compulsory ones.  A-levels are optional, require a certain
minimum performance at GCSE, typically five passes at grades A*-C with at
least a B in the ones you want to study, and are sat at 18.  It's usual to
take three; the minimum for university entrance is usually two and most
schools won't let you do more than four.  I can talk at great length about
the British school system but am politely restraining myself. :)

Philip(?) was commenting on Americanisms in DWJ.  I think we may be
suffering from books being typeset for the US first - thus in the first
British edition of Archer's Goon, Awful has coloring pencils and cookies;
and in Howl's Moving Castle, Sophie has gray eyes.  Grrr.  I find it hard to
believe that they were originally spelt that way.

And I also read books by Americans, or anyone else, with an English accent.
It startled me to read the pronunciation guide at the back of one of the
Wheel of Time books - "Trolloc: TRAHL-loc" or somesuch.  Took me a moment.
:)

Anyone who liked "The Princess Bride" should read "One for the Morning
Glory" by John Barnes, published in the US about four years ago.  It's
delightful, all the more so if you have a love of words - for instance, I
believe his characters duel one another with the fearsome weapon known as
the "pismire".  Anyone who's not grinning should run for a dictionary.

Finally, did anyone else read the January issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction
magazine?  Charles de Lint winds up his review of the Harry Potter books as
follows: "... In fact the only thing that surprises me about the Harry
Potter books is why they've been so readily embraced by such a wide spectrum
of readers, while Diana Wynne Jones, who's been doing this also, and with as
much warmth and skill, for so many years, is still best known only within
the fantasy and young adult fields.  No disrespect to Rowling; she deserves
all the kudos the books are receiving.  But I'm hoping the door she's opened
might also allow some of Jones's wonderful books to slip through into wider
acceptance as well."

Hear, hear.

Abigail.  Another of whose reasons for not speaking up sooner was the sheer
size of every message she tried to compose to the list... sorry.

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