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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

Wine, women, song... and rope-walking elephants!

Just a May Day holiday in ancient Rome...

As the days are lengthening and weather improving (in theory at least), many of you may be starting to look forward to the May Bank Holiday. It seems appropriate, therefore, to consider the ancient Roman festival which took place at the same time of year: the Floralia, in honour of the goddess Flora.

Flora, one of the most ancient deities in Roman religion, was a goddess of flowers, vegetation and fertility and she was one of 15 deities that had a state priest (known as a flamen) charged with overseeing her worship. According to legend her worship was introduced to Rome around 240 BC by a Sabine king with the rather splendid name of Titus Tatius. Her worship continued for a number of years before falling into decline, but her cult was reinstated in 173 BC after a series of poor harvests.

Tootles The Taxi

With our big stock of Ladybird Books that come through Stella and Rose's Books, we often see which titles are most popular by how long they stay on our shelves.

A title that appears to not stay on our shelves very long is that of 'Tootles The Taxi and Other Rhymes' written by Joyce B. Clegg and illustrated by John Kenney. This being the case, I wondered why this book was so popular and sat down to read it myself.

With the title, which I always refer to as 'Tootles', you could be led to believe that the book is mostly about a taxi by that name (well, that is what I thought anyway). To my surprise the rest of the title 'And Other Rhymes' describes the book more accurately. 'Tootles' is just the first rhyme in the book, with every subsequent page having a different vehicle and corresponding rhyme.

Ladybird Nature Series 536 - The 'What To Look For...' series

View current stock of Laydbird Nature Series 536

With many rhyming stories and fictional tales in their repertoire, Ladybird Books started adding educational titles to their ever expanding series of books for children.

Included among these educational titles are the four 'What to Look For' books in the 536 (Nature) series. These titles see the pairing of experienced biologist and writer Elliot Lovegood Grant Watson and famous illustrator Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe. The series explores all four seasons, and the changes and exciting events that could be observed during each season.

First to be published was 'What to look for in Winter' in 1959, followed by 'What to look for in Summer' and 'What to look for in Autumn' in 1960 and finally 'What to look for in Spring' in 1961.

The Adventures of Wonk (Ladybird Series 417)

The other day, I was handed some new Ladybird books that had come into our possession and was thrilled to see five of the six titles in 'The Adventures of Wonk' series.

This series, number 417, was the third series undertaken by Wills and Hepworth in their now familiar small Ladybird format. The books were all written by Muriel Levy ('Auntie Muriel of Radio fame' as it states on the title pages - see below right) and illustrated with beautiful and vivid full colour pictures by Kiddell-Monroe. Wills and Hepworth published them between 1941 and 1948.

Each title recounts the everyday adventures of Wonk, a sleepy, loveable Koala character, and his best friend, a young boy named Peter.

Alice in Wonderland 150th Anniversary

2015 marked the 150th anniversary of the original publication of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

A year of events to celebrate all things related to Alice have seen some wonderfully inspired activities, plenty of opportunities to take tea with a Mad Hatter, and our own Rose's Books at Hay-on-Wye have had a splendid window display with the kind assistance of Mr. Wakeling.

Partners Chris & Cliff, now enjoying their retirement in Portugal, have sent us details of the story covered in the Portuguese press!

 

 

Rodents in Childrens Books

Why rodents in children's books you may ask?

Simple answer - my husband and I are the proud owners of four beautiful dumbo-eared rats. We got our four girls ('does') back in March 2015.

After much deliberation (which pets should we get - cats? rabbits? hamster? rats?), we decided on rats. So we researched cages, food and all necessary equipment. When all this was purchased and set up, we had another choice to make: boys or girls? After much changing of our minds (we'll definitely have boys – two – called Caspian and Reepicheep – so we thought!), finally we decided on girls as they were just so pretty. We picked them up from a breeder not too far away from us and set about getting to know their individual characters.

JEEP - FAITHFUL AS A DOG, STRONG AS A MULE, AGILE AS A GOAT

In 1946 my family bought their first jeep – a Willys with a civilian registration DJY 201. 70 years later I still own and drive that jeep.

Above: Cliff in the jeep in 1956.

About 8 million horses died during World War One, they were used for transporting men, materials and guns. In World War Two the US Army needed a replacement for the horse and in early 1940 the US Army issued a specification. The Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland were the only two companies that responded to the Army's call, although over 130 companies had been invited to respond. They had been given a 49-day deadline and Willys-Overland asked for more time to finish their vehicle.

Curious Creatures

Or, for those of you who enjoyed my previous article about our garden visitors, here are “More Garden Visitors” to our garden here in Portugal. Cliff and I have been settled here for a year now and continue to be amazed at the abundance and variety of wildlife we see right outside our back door. Mind you, we have to look very closely on occasions to see the beauty, or some would say peculiarities, of the little creatures that frequent our flowers and the nooks and crannies in the stone walls. Here are some we found particularly fascinating.

Winter

We have been fortunate in my part of the world (Hay-on-Wye, UK) to have enjoyed a glorious Autumn. The colours of the leaves as they have turned have been stunning – and the weather has been mild with some sunny days which have added to the beauty. The season is now turning to Winter. I know this is not a favourite season for many but I quite like Winter. Well actually, what I like is seasons to be seasons! So there should be a gradual warming with new plant growth and lambs in the fields in Spring, warmth and lazy sunny days in Summer, glorious colours in Autumn, with a gradual cooling towards Winter which should be cold, crisp and with snow on the hills!

A Tale of a Bear and a Squirrel

It was that time of year again... the last Saturday of August (Bank Holiday weekend) and The Followers of Rupert AGM. Every year, Stella & Rose's Books make a pilgrimage to Warwick with all our Rupert stock in tow. This year was no exception.

What was different this year, is that it was my first time (believe it or not in the almost 20 years that we have been a part of this event) that I went along with Maria and her husband, Steve. Usually, the group would include Maria, Steve (Maria's husband and fellow Follower), Chris & Cliff. However, Chris & Cliff are now people of leisure living it up in Portugal and so I was roped in!

Enid Blyton Society Day 2005

Stella & Roses Books were delighted to participate in the Enid Blyton’s Society Day meeting at Twyford, UK on 7th May.

Above, left to right: Stella and Roses Books Stand; Settling down for the 1st talk of the day; Enid Blyton's daughter, Gillian, at our stand.

The aim of the Society, which was formed in early 1995, is to provide a focal point for collectors and enthusiasts of Enid Blyton through its magazine The Enid Blyton Society Journal, issued three times a year, its annual Enid Blyton Day and its website. (www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk).

Around 100 enthusiasts, including Enid’s two daughters Imogen & Gillian, spent the day gossiping (sorry I think networking is the word), browsing the Enid Blyton items for sale and listening to a talk on the early years of Enid Blyton as a governess in Hook in the 1920’s by Mark Davison. The talk was based on material from Mark’s book ‘Hook Remembered’ (mark.davison@virgin.net).

The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton

The Secret Seven series of 15 books, by prolific author Enid Blyton, follows the adventures of a strictly secret society made up of 7 children, who like to solve mysteries that they happen upon, or actively go looking for!

The History:

Although many may think, like I did before doing this research, that The Secret Seven - the first title in this series - is the first time we are introduced to the seven, this is not the case. In 1947, At Seaside Cottage a small volume was published by Brockhampton Press and featured the main characters of Peter and Janet, with their golden spaniel, Scamper. A year later in 1948, Secret of the Old Mill was published, in which Peter and Janet, after reading a book called The Secret Society, decide to create a secret society of their own, using the old mill on a hill near their home as a meeting place. They invite five of their friends to join them, and so The Secret Seven are born.

Isaac and the Midnight Jewels

"Most people love butterflies and hate moths," he said. "But moths are more interesting - more engaging.” Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs

One of the wonders of grand-children (and they are so many that I have neither the time nor talent to do them justice) is that they can take our imagination by the hand and lead us down paths of curiosity we haven’t known since we were young ourselves.

“What are moths, Pompar?” A simple enough question from a six year old but, just as the attention of the bee stimulates a flower to offer nectar, suddenly my childhood fascination with these mysterious creatures of the night sky came flooding back. Luckily, it was late August and Isaac was staying with us for a while over the holidays. Here was a golden opportunity for Isaac and I to do something together.

What's In A Book?

In the short time I have been adding books into stock at Rose's Books I have been amused by the obscure items you find hidden between the pages. Often the item has been used as a bookmark so I can only assume that when a reader is looking for something to mark their page, they grab the first thing that comes to hand - as you will see from the following list.

A black and white photograph of a young man and a dog.

The outer cardboard wrapper from a film cartridge. I googled the make and looks like it could be for a box camera from around the 1930s.

My First Year With Hearing Dog Betsy

View current stock of Books about Dogs

Firstly, I should explain to those of you that are unaware, I am profoundly deaf. I decided to apply for a Hearing Dog to enhance my life after my pet dog, Holly, passed away. Finally after 5 years of waiting, the day was upon us!

Wow! Time flies! I brought Betsy home with me for the first time on 31st May 2014. A whole year has flown by already!

Above: 1. Betsy alerting me and 2. Betsy laying down after I have asked "What is it", so that I know it is an emergency alarm!  

Betsy has been good for me in so many ways – some obvious and some more subtle. She has made me feel much more confident about going out and about on my own – simply shopping or going to the bank or doctors. I feel much happier being home overnight without my husband if he has to go away due to work. In the past, I would worry that I wouldn't wake up in the morning for work or perhaps the burglar alarm would go off in the night and I wouldn't hear it. Now I sleep a lot better knowing that Betsy will wake me up in the morning or if she hears an alarm.

How to date a book

In English the word “date” has multiple meanings, so if you are thinking romance, then sadly this is most likely not for you!

 

Now, when I started working in a book shop and you asked me to find the publication date of the book, I would think “yes I know how to do that” well after a few years I changed to “errr why is it so difficult to find the publication date!”. Now after a few more years, I finally feel I am vaguely getting to grips with the process, and so I thought I would share some of the tips I have picked up.

Snorri the Seal by Frithjof Saelen

When I was very young, even before I could read, I was enthralled by the story of a vain little seal called Snorri.

In the late 50s my big sister Elspeth had been been given the book, “Snorri the Seal” as a prize at her primary school when she was seven years old and I suppose that as she grew out of it, so I grew into it, and became as fascinated by the pictures contained within as Snorri was by his own reflection in the ice.

The book follows the perilous misadventures of a baby seal called Snorri who ignores his mother's warnings about the dangers of the Arctic and its creatures and instead swims happily among the ice-floes. As he wanders further from home he is attacked by Growler the polar bear, spied upon by a pair of scheming seagulls called See and Saw and stalked relentlessly by a killer whale called Grab.

Military Books

View current stock of Military books

It is always pleasant to chat with customers who drop into our Tintern shop, and I have heard all manner of fascinating anecdotes and family recollections and learned many facts over the years which I would not otherwise have known.

The other day, as I was circumnavigating the shop collecting together books for the orders which had been placed online, I was apprehended by two jovial gentlemen in Room 10 - which is currently home to our collection of Military Books. They were astonished by the range, as well as the quality, of our military books section and were enthusiastically working their way around the shelves, calling out delightedly as they discovered some elusive gem or a volume which brought back memories of previous events in their lives.

C.F. Tunnicliffe

View current stock of C.F. Tunnicliffe books

It is often illustrations that people remember from childhood books. They can describe the illustration but have no idea who produced it. I am no exception as I can remember illustrations from the Ladybird book 'What to look for in Winter' very clearly but it is only recently that I have discovered that they were by C.F. Tunnicliffe.

Above: Tunnicliffe illustrations from 'Mereside Chronicle'

Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe was born on 1st December 1901 in Langley near Macclesfield in Cheshire. When he was eighteen months old the family moved to a farm at Sutton Lane Ends where Tunnicliffe spent the rest of his childhood. Tunnicliffe's interest in art began here and his drawings would appear on the walls of the cowshed and stable! His artistic talent was recognised by the Headmaster, Buckley Moffat, and Charles went on to attend the Macclesfield School of Art as well as going to the Manchester School of Art one day a week.

Here Comes The Sun

Meteorology & Climate books in stock

No, don't panic! 

This is not an advance warning of global catastrophe as the planet is consumed by a rampaging sun. Nor, and possibly this may be an even greater relief, does it have anything to do with 1970s television. Note for our younger readers: in the Seventies we'd sit glued to the TV set, possibly by the static electricity from all that damn nylon, as the Holiday programme, hosted by Cliff Michelmore, scorched across our screens to the refrain Here Comes The Sun... Ah, yes, those indeed were the days.

At this time of the year thoughts turn towards our nearest star, or more specifically towards its effects on the weather in our particular corner of the world. After the chill, grey days of winter I think that most people, even the snow-lovers and 'coldies', derive some pleasure from the increasing warmth of the sun's rays on our faces as we go about our business.