12 Days of Books 2017/18: Bertie’s Escapade

IMG_6582Book:
Bertie’s Escapade  by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard
1949, J.B. Lippincott Company

For Boxing Day we have Bertie’s Escapade.  While The Wind in the Willows is obviously far more well-known, this more obscure work by Grahame is also interesting in its own right.  It’s a much shorter book, originally published in First Whisper of the Wind in the Willows.

IMG_6597

The story concerns a pig named Bertie who decides he is going to go carol-singing on a Winter’s night. He convinces a pair of rabbits to come along. Their names are Peter and Benjie, but I don’t think they are meant to be Beatrix Potter’s rabbits, just named after them.

IMG_6596

Bertie isn’t actually a very nice pig.  He’s extremely bossy and even threatens to bite Benjie when the rabbit is reluctant to come along.  But Benjie is right to be cautious, as Bertie’s plan doesn’t really work out at all and the carol-singers end up being chased off by dogs.

IMG_6595

Bertie makes the best of it, however, and he, the rabbits, and a mole (probably not Moley, as he is married, has a job as an elevator operator, and a somewhat gruff personality) have a supper party by stealing a bunch of food from a Mr Grahame.  I don’t know if Kenneth Grahame really did have a pig named Bertie and rabbits named Peter and Benjie, but it is an interesting way to end the story.

IMG_6594

Bertie’s Stolen Midnight Supper Menu

Cold chicken

Tongue

Pressed beef

Jellies

Trifle

Apples

Oranges

Chocolates

Ginger

Crackers

Ginger-beer

Soda-water

Champagne

This is definitely a fun little book, notable more for comedy than sentiment, but reading something funny while eating far too much indulgent food is a very good way to spend Boxing Day.

IMG_6601IMG_6598

12 Days of Books 2017/18: The Tailor of Gloucester

IMG_6581

Book:
The Tailor of Gloucester  by Beatrix Potter
1987, F. Warne Publishing

Christmastide again!  I have no excuse for the long hiatus I’ve had from here.  I’m just sorry that I’ve yet again let everything else get in the way!

But I’ve still got a massive amount of books in mind to discuss.   I thought that this year we could do something a little different, and have a series of mini posts for the 12 Days of Christmas.
IMG_6582
Today’s book is The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter.  It’s the story of a poor tailor who is commissioned to make a coat and waistcoat for the Mayor of Gloucester, who is getting married on Christmas Day in the morning.  While suitable for all ages, there is a lot of vocabulary which children may not know.  However, I think it really does not matter, as most of it is there to create atmosphere.

IMG_6586

But the reason I would recommend this book for Christmas Day (or perhaps even more appropriately, Christmas Eve) is for the peculiar section near the end where the  tailor’s cat Simpkin goes walking in the snow at night on Christmas Eve.  He goes through a series of little vignettes which act as a sort of morality play, or perhaps his own personal Christmas Carol experience.

IMG_6585

It is all full of the particular atmosphere, mystery and melancholy which are so suited to a cold Winter night.  The illustrations, which are more detailed and emotional than usual for Potter, reinforce the impression.

IMG_6584
If that is the kind of mood you are looking for, then this is a great book to curl up with on a bleak Winter night.  Tea is optional, but recommended