Tuesday, 5 May 2015

I can't go back to yesterday...

It’s hard to believe, but my blog will be four years old on the 6th May 2015. My first tentative post back in 2011 was a short piece about Marjorie Torry and her illustrations for Alice in Wonderland (here). The featured book sold and although I’ve searched high and low, I’ve never found another copy – until now - how fortuitous that one should turn up just in time for my blogiversary. Enjoy!

All the featured images are from Alice in Wonderland, published by Purnell, London in 1964.    Find it HERE

I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”  - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

When I wrote that very first blog post back in 2011  I was convinced it would remain unread forever – I was wrong! Thank you to every single person who takes the time to call in, your visits mean the world.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

How lovely it is to look out of the window and see trees bursting into life. It’s still cold at night and there has been the odd drop of rain, but it’s generally warm and sunny. The words I've used here are from a poem called Today by Billy Collins.  If you would like to find out more about him there is an excellent biography at The Poetry Foundation.  Most of the photographs are from our garden, although the first one was taken at Barrington Court and the last three while walking around the village where we live. The blackbird is a daily visitor and a very welcome one.   

Some of my favourite online destinations are looking very spring like just now – first up Milly & Dottie’s Emporium a vintage treasure house. 

Lots of cute vintage treasures at Crave Cute

Delightful art prints from Winter Moon at Society6 

Once you've visited Milly & Dottie, Crave Cute and Winter Moon don’t forget to come back and visit me at March House Books where you will find all kinds of vintage things, including this sweet little book about Pookie a white rabbit with wings!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Reading for Meaning

While the Janet and John and Dick and Jane books are probably the primers most of us remember, there were several other, widely used school books that taught thousands of us to read.  One such series was the 'reading for meaning' books written by Paul McKee.

Dr. Paul McKee (October 1898 - November 1974) was a university professor, an author of children's books, and was regarded as one of the most eminent scholars in his field.  McKee earned a doctorate at the University of Iowa before joining the faculty at the University of Northern Colorado.

Pictured are four books from the Reading for Meaning series, Book 1 Tip, Book 2 Tip and Mitten,   Book 3 With Peter and Susan and Book 4 Up and Away.  The ribbon tied books are from The Beacon Reading Series. For information and prices of these and other early readers and school text books, please visit March House Books 

I wonder how many of you remember your first day at primary school or kindergarten. I have vivid memories of mine. There were no pre-schools or nurseries in the 1950s so my first day was also the first time I’d spent any time away from home. This was going to be a big day! I knew that because dad took the morning off work even though it was the busiest time of the year for a farmer.  Mum dressed up in her Sunday best, and made sure I was wearing clean socks and knickers!  When we arrived at the school dad declined to get out of the car even though he was wearing his ‘good’ suit. So it was left to mum to half drag, half carry me through the double doors of a terrifyingly large building.

Once inside we were met by a scary looking woman who quickly ushered mum out with the words “come along mother time to leave".  I decided there and then that this thing called school wasn't for me, but a firm grip on my shoulder prevented my escape!  I don’t think I've ever felt quite as lost as I did in those first few hours, but it wasn't long before I was into the swing of things. I loved sitting at my desk pencil in hand busy ‘doing sums’ or sitting on the floor with the other children listening to the teacher reading stories.  I soon began to recognise the simple words in the Janet and John books and the Beacon Readers, but I don’t have any recollection of actually learning to read.  Do you remember your first day at school or the first book you read?

The Beacon Reading Series background design courtesy of our little granddaughter Lilly.

Lilly will be three in May so no school just yet, 

but her big sister Zoe started at kindy (nursery school) earlier this year. Just two days a week at the moment, here she is on her first morning happy and excited to be going.  

 This photo makes me smile, the Frozen backpack is almost as big as Zoe.

Just to round things off, this is me with my dad and my older brother and sister.  I’m not sure of the date, but I would guess September 1953 just before the start of the new school year and my first term. My brother and sister are quite a bit older than me so by the time I started at primary school they had already moved on to seniors.  

Thanks for looking.

Details of the featured books can be found at March House Books (unless sold)

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Noah's Ark and other recent finds!

I hope you enjoy this quick preview. If you would like to ask a question or need further information about any of the featured books, please click on the 'email me' link in the right-hand column.

Noah's Ark published by Valentine & Sons undated but c1921.  All kinds of well known and not so well known creatures are depicted including a Quadda, Caracal, Puma, Ounce, Phalanger, Ratel, Albatross, Secretary bird, Cavy, Cassowary, Margay, Ichneumon, Mangue, Sasyure and so on.
Strangely, none of the animals are in pairs.

Find it HERE

Cinderella Toy Theatre / Panorama Book illustrated by Eulalie.  Stand the book on a flat surface and clip the covers together to see the story unfold before your eyes. The first act begins as soon as you open the cover...

Find it HERE

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp published by Faber & Faber, London 1981.  The story of Aladdin and his lamp brought to life with amazing full colour illustrations by the brilliant Errol le Cain.

Aladdin is now sold, thank you for your interest.

The Church Mouse by Graham Oakley published by Macmillan Books in 1977. The story begins in the Anglican Church of Saint John, Worthlethorpe where Sampson the cat and Arthur the mouse live a quiet and happy life. Sampson has listened to so many sermons about the meek being blessed that he has grown quite docile and treats Arthur just like his brother. Although enjoying Sampson's company Arthur is a little lonely and with the approval of the parson invites the rest of the town's mice population to move to the church. It's agreed that in exchange for a little cheese, the mice will do a few odd jobs, like polishing the congregation's shoes and picking up the confetti after weddings...

Find it HERE

The Amazing Adventures of Two Boots written by Ross Lynton with illustrations by Brenda Sheldon published by Collins in 1948. An imaginative tale of two boots who discover they can walk about by themselves. The boots are in great demand by all sorts of people, from message boys to policemen, but one person is too wily for them. This is the owner of a circus; a cruel man called Boiler Brown, who manages to catch the boots and force them to perform in his show.

Find it HERE

Mr. Happy at the Seaside - A Mr. Men Word Book by Roger Hargreaves produced by Thurman Publishing in 1979.  Our son grew up with the Mr. Men books so this holds lots of happy memories for us.

Find it HERE

Three of the ever popular Little Grey Rabbit Books

Find them HERE

Gobbliwinks of Nonsense Land written by Leslie M Oyler with illustrations by Savile Lumley published by The Shoe Lane Publishing Company undated but c1927. Pamela and Hugh are playing in the garden when they notice a sign pointing to Nonsense Land.  Pamela finds it very funny because nurse is always telling her to stop talking nonsense!  The children follow the sign and it’s not long before they find three more signs pointing the way to Absurd Nonsense, Stuff and Nonsense and Utter Nonsense...

Find it HERE

We've been enjoying lots of lovely spring sunshine over the last few days. The blackbirds are busy feeding their new brood, and the butterflies are basking on the rockery. Spring has definitely arrived in this part of England. I hope you are all enjoying some nice weather whatever the season.

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