Oh No, George! – Chris Haughton

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Ah George. Your perfectly rounded dome head, your dopey stare, your perfectly floppy ears…your great big clumsy body….hang on, I’ve seen you somewhere before….

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Inspired by our very own dome head, my other half bought Chris Haughton’s book on a whim whilst loitering around Waterstones one chilly afternoon. This tale of doggy mischief and mayhem is hilarious and heartwarming and another absolute fave in the Relish household at the moment.

George the Labrador (this isn’t specified by the way, I just like to think of him as a lab) lives with owner, Harris (who is, I’d like to note here, both smaller than George and rather green around the gills) who decides to leave poor George to his devices one day. I say poor George as the prospect of being left alone in the house with a cake, a cat AND some lovely potted plants makes him incredibly nervous.

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What follows are the disastrous consequences of Harris’ departure, as George, unable to resist his doggy instincts, makes mistake after mistake, all accompanied by the cry ‘Oh no George!’ Reading to a toddler every day you swiftly come to realise the value of Repetition, with a capital R.

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Harris of course has to eventually come back, George is rumbled and absolutely devastated by his behaviour. In a scene that I think is simply the saddest I’ve read in a long time (yes, more than THAT scene in One Day) George, with a tear rolling down his cheek, apologises and offers his beloved Harris his toy duck. Oh George, you break my heart.

Being a sensible sort of chap Harris suggests going for a nice walk to clear the air, a walk where George redeems himself by ignoring all temptation. What a good boy. But wait……an overflowing bin looms on the horizon. Baby is left with a nerve-wracking cliff hanger. Will he go for the rubbish? I personally like to think he does.

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I love this book. From a personal point of view it makes me feel like I understand our great daft dog a little better and, I hope, makes me a little kinder to him when he snaffles in the rubbish bin. Ish! I wasn’t overly keen on the Microsoft-paint style illustrations at first but the naive style really does grow on you and after a while, I cottoned on to what I think Haughton is trying to do here. And its charming.

But never mind me, does baby like it? The answer is a big fat yes. The colours are bold and the characters recognisable (it helps that we have our very own teeny black cat and great big dog at home). The constant repetition of ‘oh no George!’ (and, later, ‘well done George!’) is something he’s waiting for, the anticipation making it all the more hilarious. I also think it’s important for young children to get to know characters like George, who make mistakes despite their best intentions. It seems an important message to send that we’re not all perfect after all and that, if you’re genuinly sorry for stealing that slice of cake and make a big effort to redeem yourself afterwards, everything’s probably going to be absolutely fine.

Warm, funny, colourful, relatable, all we need in a baby book.

 

‘Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one’s desires, but by the removal of desire…No man is free who is not master of himself.’              

 EPICTETUS   (and George, the dog)

 

Books I Could Re-read Forever

Back in 2016 the pressure to think up startlingly original reviews/bookish posts finally got the better of me and I gave in – albeit temporarily. Life happened and what has followed has been quite a simple epiphany – it doesn’t fudging matter if my posts are any good as long as I’m enjoying myself! It has been all to easy too forget just how fantastic the online bookish community is and the past couple of weeks I’ve spent reconnecting with people have been just wonderful and reminded me just how much I’ve missed everyone.

I always enjoy writing reviews but, if I’m honest, anything beyond that (unless I have a clear subject matter; e.g. a bookshop I’ve visited, etc) I sometimes struggle for inspiration and I have so much admiration for those who churn out quality post after post. That’s why I’ve always enjoyed the eternally popular Top Ten Tuesday (originally hosted by Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish who has since moved on and has now courageously been taken on by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl) for a little mental jig around and inspiration (which if any of you have seen my woeful Goodreads so far this year will understand is sorely needed). Today I’m starting on a positive note and looking at the books I could reread forever (but never do since rereading feels like time-wasting – I know that that’s the wrong attitude to have – feel free to tell me how wrong in the comments section below!):

1. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell 

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Now, because of when/where it is set (i.e. Civil War era Georgia) Gone With the Wind can make you squirm; specifically with its depiction of slavery – oh how content they seem! However, regardless of these sinister misgivings, this is a CRACKER of a story and I could read it all. day. long.

2. Snowflake – Paul Gallico

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I’m sure I’ve mentioned this book on here a million times, no doubt in lists identical to this one but do give it a read. It’s not a terribly well-known book these days but it is oh so sweet and ever so magical. Read it before the snow disappears!

3. His Dark Material Trilogy – Philip Pullman

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It’s so many years now since I read Philip Pullman’s legendary trilogy, I’ve definitely passed my 10 year rule on re-reads. It’s time to dust these off again because the fantastical adventures of Lyra and her Pantalaimon have never left me.

4. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

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Does this one need any explanation? I unfortunately didn’t make it very far into the popular TV adaptation last year (I couldn’t cope with my OH spoiling it for himself) but a million and one people have told me I need to give it another crack.

5. The Snowchild – Eowyn Ivey

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Another beautiful novel. Rich with imagery and meaning. This modern fairytale reminds me in this lull that there are wonderful books out there, I just need to search a little harder (and read a little more thoughtfully).

6. The Snowgoose – Paul Gallico

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Another beautiful, fable-like tale from one of my all time faves (I’m sure those of you who have been around here a while are familiar with my twee Paul Gallico obsession – sorry). The Snow Goose is arguably his most famous work.

7. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

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I often get myself into a mood where I relish eccentric, quintessentially English books that don’t need to necessarily go anywhere plot-wise, they just need to be beautifully written. This is a book for all your lazy summer afternoons.

8. All My Friends are Superheroes – Andrew Kaufman

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After reading his fantastical fable; The Tiny Wife, I was so excited to return to Andrew Kaufman’s famous first book. It is funny, quirky in the extreme, touching and can be read on so many different levels. It definitely needs to be read more than the once.

9. Cider with Rosie – Laurie Lee

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Ooooo Laurie Lee. More quintessential ‘englishness’ (the original, in my opinion). Although the Spanish novels recounting his time there during the civil war are wonderful, I adore Cider with Rosie. It’s idyllic picture of rural England makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I just can’t help myself.

10. We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Adichie is not only an immensely talented novelist but an awesome woman, an intellectual force to be reckoned with and this tract; based on her 2013 TEDx talk, is food for thought. You have no excuse not to improve yourself by reading this again and again; it’s oh so short and oh so important.

Peepo! and the perils of parental reading

**Coughs**

Hello?…..Anyone out there??

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My incredibly bad (and spotty) ode to librairie mollat

I have to admit, it feels a little odd and vaguely embarrassing to be writing an actual blog post today. I have no idea (but very much doubt) whether my old bloggy friends and lurkers on here remember me or pay a visit to old reviews from time to time but, whether I’m rekindling old connections or speaking out into the void, welcome!!

Our life has had a complete transformation over the last year and a half. Namely starting our very own little family (puppy included) and hopefully a future generation of mad-fer-it little readers.

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It is such an obvious cliché that parenthood will have a huge impact on your reading; particularly for those former die-hards with tottering TBRs who used to regularly burn the midnight oil to finish a book. Two weeks’ into this adventure, once the shock had subsided and I remembered that I was, after all, Literary Relish and that I kind of enjoy reading a book from time to time rather than purely bingeing on daytime telly – well, it was a revelationDozy days spent on the sofa breastfeeding lend themselves to one thing and one thing only, BOOKS and lots of them. God forbid however that you find yourself stuck without a glass of water or, worse, a complete dud of a novel.

Thankfully I was fairly lucky in the early days, using books to help me stay awake during night feeds and experiencing some absolute gems; Ellen Wood’s East Lynne being one of them (I talked about my absolute faves of last year for the wonderful Rebecca Foster in this here post on her fabulous blog).

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New filing system

This peaceful time is inevitably short-lived but, in our frantic lives, particularly when running around after and raising little humans I think it is essential not to lose sight of ourselves. For me, whether I read 5 or 50 books this year, I find that self in literature.

I read an article on the fabulous books section of the Guardian website months ago (and didn’t bookmark or save and now can’t find it – poor show) where the author cited having a baby as the event that helped him out of his reading rut. Lengthy nighttime feeds and, in toddler/childhood, reading to his children at bedtime and introducing them to much-loved classics, completely rekindled his love affair with books.

Children’s books are wonderful things and, during weeks when I can barely keep my eyes open past 8pm, such gems as Mog and the Baby (Judith Kerr), Hairy Maclary (Lynley Dodd) and Please, Mr. Panda (Steve Antony) keep me going, maintaining that wonderful fuzzy bookish feeling in my tummy. It won’t help my Goodreads Challenge, but it will certainly help my soul.

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My poor ravaged old bookshelf

It feels great to be back and rambling into the blogosphere again. If any of you are still around I’d be delighted to know what’s new. And if you have some lovely children’s books to recommend or tips on how to maximise reading time on very little energy, throw them my way!!

xx

A little literary vacation…

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Hello you lovely lot.

I thought it’d only be polite to drop by to say hello and apologise, first of all, for my dwindling posts over the past few months. Needless to say things have been rather hectic over at the Rock-Seed household (not least due to the little poppet attached) and, although my reading and internet lurking has survived, actually thinking about what I read and putting it into some kind of coherent review has dwindled to zero and I have to say, I’m kind of enjoying it!

This blog has been going for quite some time and I am so grateful to you bookish folk for sticking around so long. Although Literary Relish is far from dead, it’s time I took a much needed break with a temporary 2016 hiatus. It’d be just lovely to spend some time getting on top of my TBR and playing with the puppy. Pressure off.

I will of course, be duly lurking around everyone else’s blogs and podcasts (how would I figure out what to read next otherwise?!) but am taking a break from my own garble for now. A little refresher. Although I always appreciate review requests, that’ll also mean a break from these just for a little while.

So for now, peeps, it’s goodbye from me (and goodbye from Milton!) I will see you all very soon on some other part of the tinterweb. Keep reading!

BT Bobbins !!

I’m sure you’ve all been there …. The most perfect idea for a blog post … Half a handcrafted review completed and then SNATCHED in the blink of an eye as your stupid Internet connection  fails. 

The bf and I have been out of action wifi-wise for over a week and, due to the frustrating lack of customer service at BT (RUBBISH, avoid them like the p l a g u e) threatens to be out well into next week ! So, for now bookworms I’ll say a short cheerio. Using this temporary hiatus to get some much needed reading done AND have a think about my pending review of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. A tricky one to say the least ! 

Xxxx much love from the Relish iPhone, courtesy of some scarce 3G action xxx