01 May 2017

Birthday Books 2017

Books always number among the birthday presents my family gives me each year, and this year I was lucky enough to receive an extra bountiful batch. As usual, I thought I'd share my book haul here on my blog as reading inspiration for anyone who happens to be in search of a good book!

First, children's books! I love books for readers of all ages, and even have a website and magazine-style anthology series entirely devoted to children's literature. One writer whose work features many times in the anthology series is Robert Louis Stevenson, but until now I've never had a physical copy of his children's poetry collection A Child's Garden of Verses. This version is illustrated by Tasha Tudor, one of my favorite illustrators, and I adore her detailed depictions of the poems.

I also love the work of Jane Hissey, whose book series about Old Bear and his toy friends features intricate, almost photorealistic illustrations that somehow retain a beautifully nostalgic quality. I've read an Old Bear story or two before in mixed anthologies, but the Old Bear Stories collection includes five full books, all of which are sweet and lovely.

One of the reasons I have such a fondness for Old Bear and friends is because they remind me of A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh stories, which are my absolute favorite children's books. Positively Pooh is an amusing and surprisingly helpful compilation of quotations from the Pooh books paired with life advice--the design of the pages inside, with E. H. Shepard's black ink illustrations placed on pastel-colored backgrounds, is quite striking.

The two books written for older children I received are completely new to me. Although I've read and loved all of P. L. Traver's Mary Poppins books, I had no idea that she wrote other books for children like I Go by Sea, I Go by Land. And The Clockwork Sparrow is a relatively new book by an author I'd never head of, but it's an entertaining mystery story with a setting that will appeal to fans of the ITV/PBS series Mr Selfridge.

Finally, of the adult fiction I received, two are in favorite series and one is by a new-to-me author. The books in Miss Read's Fairacre series are always cozy and comforting reads, and Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street series is like the perfect lighthearted television show in book form, with its serialized episodes and ensemble cast of characters. E. M. Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady has been intriguing me for a while, so I'm excited to finally give it a try--I hope it'll be something like Angela Thirkell's books and E. F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia series!

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