Where Texts and Children Meet (book #81)

eds Eve Bearne and Victor Watson, 2000.

Watson identifies a genre of “camping and tramping narratives,” like the Fell Farm series:

The background … was the great agricultural depression that afflicted the British countryside until the end of the 1950s. … Since World War I, the young had left the countryside in their thousands, leaving a beautiful rather run-down rural landscape. Depressed rural Britain – appealing, mysterious, peopled by subservient farm worlers and full of dilapidated and half-ruined buildings – was infinitely appealing to the middle classes, who could see it as a lovely playground full of history and mysetery, and suitable for hiking, boating and all manner of adventures for children. The background to all those friendly and welcoming fictional farmers was, in reality, one of economic and social stagnation, in which farmers had to supplement their incomes in ant way they could. When farmers began to prosper and agriculture became intensive, an entire genre of children’s fiction was effectively wiped out by Common marker farming subsidies. And, at about the same time, the Beeching cuts closed down the railway branch lines that had taken so many fictional children by steam to their favourite holiday destinations.

Found some reviews of the FF books. One; two; three. What I remember most is a scene where they are picked up by the local policeman having got lost in the mist. They sleep on his living room floor but leave early before he and his wife are up, because they know the adults will take them home and they want to finish their expedition. What staid with me was concern for the policeman whose hospitality they effectively reject, and the class subtext – the children think he can’t understand their plans. I know I’ve only read two of the three books – I think the one I haven’t read is Fell Farm Easter. Must … not … buy …

I also need not to buy M E Atkinson’s books about the Lockett family, published 1936-1961, also in the camping and tramping genre, but set in the south of England.

Good stuff about Henrietta Branford. Margaret Meek Spencer discusses two of her books. Of Hansel and Gretel, wch I haven’t read, Spencer says

my admiration for the way Branford shows her readers how sentences work is unbounded. There is nothing here beyond the competence of a young reader’s writing, but the details add up to something worse than loss: ‘But when the moon came out there was no trail of crumbs. Ants had carried them off. Birds had pecked them up. Lumbering blackbeetles had clicked their pincers and gobbled them down. They were gone’. … the author lets the narrative carry feelings as well as actions and events.

Caspar has chewed the corner of the front cover of this book. It’s inter-library loan, so hope this won’t be a problem.

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